(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Single Review: STAL – The Crime

By on Wednesday, 24th January 2018 at 12:00 pm

Part of the excitement of an emerging music festival, whether it’s in Brisbane or Brighton, is that you never know what great talent might be behind those club doors, and sometimes the club next door down the street. Three years ago, I caught Frenchmen STAL at The Arch on the first night of The Great Escape 2015. At the time, surrounded by their screaming fans, I wondered, how did we miss them completely? To be fair, electronic has a hard time getting traction in most of America, so unless the electronic music a Continental band is making is fairly poppy, or you’re someone with a massive established following like M83, the music isn’t going to make it out of Europe.

Now based in Los Angeles, STAL are an electronic-driven act stars Pierre-Marie Maulini (guitar, synths, and vocals) and Renaud Rodier (drums), augmented live with Jeff Di Rienzo (guitar and synths). Since I saw them at the Great Escape, they’ve dropped two albums, 2015’s ‘Young Hearts’ and 2016’s ‘Cinephila’. Two singles last year, ‘Get Out’ and ‘Fresh Blood’, showed their potential for poppier and rockier edges, respectively. Their latest single unveiled last week, ‘The Crime’, sees the group flirt with r&b. On the band’s Facebook, they wrote, “We hope you guys will like it as much we do cause this sound is a brand new journey for us and we’re lovin’ it !” One commenter said in French that they’re sound a bit Justin Timberlake, and that’s a decently accurate description.

Maulini’s falsetto sounds like it’s been put through autotune. Oddly, when accompanied by a squealing guitar, it doesn’t feel that out of place. A seductive melody oozes along with crunches of electronic percussion, and with Maulini’s lyrics speaking of jealousy, restlessness and the pain of being dumped. These are all common pop song themes, and there’s no shame in that. While I, as a music editor, expect bands to evolve over time, STAL have made a great leap of faith from their popular in Europe, dreamy, uplifting electro sound from 2015 to one that mirrors what’s heating up the record charts here in America and in the UK. Is it a wise gamble? Will it pay off for them? Is it time to start shouting “Viva la France” from the rooftops? With the r&b field so crowded as it is, I’m cautiously sceptical. Still, I’m eager to see what STAL decide to pull out of the bag at SXSW 2018 in March.


STAL’s newest single ‘The Crime’ is out now; you can stream it below. The Los Angeles via Paris band are scheduled to showcast at SXSW 2018. As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, their appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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