ALBUM REVIEW: Agar Agar’s latest release “Player Non Player” is a fever dream’s theme

But that was to be expected. The Parisian electro-pop duo doesn’t shy away from discordant lyricism and synthesizers, it’s what they do. Player Non Player is another chapter in the ever-evolving sound of Agar Agar.  Surprisingly, it’s been 4 years since the duo released their debut album, The Dog and Future, which featured memorable songs such as “Fangs Out “and “Sorry About the Carpet”, with music videos that get increasingly bizarre by the minute.  

The songs of Player Non Player echo the detached sound that can be found in most Agar Agar songs. Ambient as if the vocals and production are being played in separate rooms, coming together to make a very removed sounding LP. The album is compiled with lyrics that resemble AI, they’re very close to being comprehensible but something is off just enough to make you question it.  

From the opening song, “Grass”,  

A monster at heart  

Going too fast to tell 

A beast, a stray cat, a frog 

A beast, a creature that no one else will name 

Am I alive or erased? 

Am I transforming into a monster? 

Will I vanish while it’s in control? 

Fingers expending with speed and effort

 

The lyrics seem to be familiar sentiments until you start to wonder what’s actually going on. 

In an interview with Metal, the duo reveals their songwriting process, “We write songs by intuition. We first put the machines on, play on them, Clara sings whatever passes through her mind, and then we put a structure over it.”  

The duo’s interesting songwriting process makes for an exciting listen, you never know what to expect from Clara Cappagli’s lyrics and Armand Bultheel’s responding production. 

Grass” also features Bultheel’s futuristic synth bass lines, and a drum beat reminiscent of 90s hip-hop and Chicago house. A relationship that has coexisted with Euro-dance and pop music. The lyrics and beat make an energetic song that somehow makes you forget its absurdity by the end of it.  

Trouble” is one of Agar Agar most vibrant songs, it’s jumpy and has beats of UK Garage. And yet, it features an array of unique effects and sounds combined with Clara almost rapping lyrics over it all. 

Fake Names” is another ambient-like song with beats that resonate like a Sade or Dido song. Bultheel’s production skills stand out on this track as he leads into the song’s outro with a catchy synth riff. 

“Dragonlie” is a laidback track with a 90s feel and vocals that ride the waves of the beat and synths. The lyrics of this song seem to be the most in touch with real sentiments, 

I beg you partner stay 

Don’t leave me here with silence 

He left me with all his lies  

He thought that would better times 

 He ditched me with all his pride

“Dude on horse” Although they’re a French duo, the most non-English lyrics on the album are sung in Japanese by Zombie Chang,  a singer and model hailing from Yokohama, Japan. It’s a mindless track about a “Dude on horse with no horse.” And it echoes the albums sound of trying to connect the dots after a deep sleep, and Zombie Chang is singing somewhere in the background.  

Agar Agar isn’t concerned about conventionality, for them it’s about having fun and experimenting with music. With their atmospheric sound, they don’t fail to capture a retro melancholy and create memorable dance tracks simultaneously.  

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