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Thomas Meluch, who records music as Benoît Pioulard. has been making lo-fi acoustic folk since the mid-1990s but his releases have always been limited releases on CD or cassette. Recently, however, Meluch has started releasing his unique brand of hazy bedroom folk pop on small labels.

Always interested in field recordings, Meluch stuffs Lasted full of tape hiss, clicks, and other found sounds. The first sound of album opener, “Purse Discusses,” is a train whistle. These sounds bath the songs with a personal, organic atmosphere. The album can be divided into about half ambient interludes and half fuzzy lo-fi bedroom pop, heavily folk influenced. Songs shuffle along driven by the clicks of tape, minimal percussion and either strummed or fingerpicked guitar work. Despite the simplicity of this structure, each song is soaked in ambient haze. Riding on top of this wash of sounds is Meluch’s voice – relaxed, natural, and very pleasant though always tinged with melancholy. This album feels like an overcast morning or a late night drive – those moments that feel warm and comfortable.

The music is very dynamic and fluid. Guitar phrases bubble up out of the cloud of sound only to quickly submerge back into the haze. Songs crash and recede like waves against a beach. Dumb nature analogies aside, the album is covered in painterly touches, little moments that remind the listener of the human behind these songs.

The album is a quiet, forty minute affair that never really reaches out of its comfort zone but when Meluch is doing his thing so well and with such maturity and confidence, this is not really a problem. Album highlights include “Aillleurs,” “RTO,” and “A Coin on the Tongue.” When the last bit of heavy tape hiss fades out on ambient closer, “Nod,” it almost feels like the album never really happened – that the sounds were just part of the natural world. Whatever it is, I keep coming back to this album. If you ever feel like you want to toss a car through your ex or smash a window with a puppy, I suggest you put down said puppy, or hold it in your lap, and put this album on. Then cuddle.

Lasted is Meluch’s third official album for music label, Kranky. It was released October 11, 2010.

Reviewed by Joseph Ocon