16. Charlotte Adigery and Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer

Rarely does an album come along quite like this. In my March write-up for Louder Than War, I described it as a “potent commentary on a cultural appropriation, misogyny and racism, all enveloped in a cloak of exuberant electro-pop”. In short, Topical Dancer is a banger with something to say.

Incredibly, this novice duo, Charlotte Adigery and Bolis Pupul, have created a debut album the likes of which most artists will never match in an entire career. Topical Dancer is choc-full of outstanding tunes. Broadly speaking, this is pop music, dance music. Not a genre one would necessarily associate with protest songs. However, as Belgians with immigrant backgrounds – Adigery is of Guadaloupian/French-Martinique ancestry whilst Pupul is of Chinese descent – the duo are no strangers to discrimination. They lean on the pain of those experiences to deliver a powerful message. Don’t be misled by the lightness of the music; these are the most hard-hitting, thought-provoking lyrics you will hear this year. Take the opening line of the throbbing dance anthem, Blenda. It doesn’t get much more brutal than “Go back to your country where you belong”. 

Despite that, much of the vitriol is couched firmly tongue-in-cheek. Parts of Topical Dancer are laugh-out-loud hilarious. As the album closes, on its final song entitled Thank You, Adigery sarcastically drawls “yes, I prefer my first EP too”. Cutting.

The very foundation of Topical Dancer though, is the songs. They are fantastic. The aforementioned Blenda and Ceci N’est Pas Un Cliché are bright and bubbly. Making Sense Stop is beautifully melodic and features Adigery’s finest vocal performance on this collection. The infectious Esperanto is pop at its purest whilst Reappropriate is a beautiful R&B ballad.

Topical Dancer is an album with it all going on. Intelligence, wit and technically superb songwriting ability, all combining to create an album that is incredible fun and eminently listenable. It is electro-pop at its finest. Dance AND smash the system.  

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