When it comes to being cool, the trick is to act like you don’t care. New Brunswick’s Vivianne Roy walks that line without breaking a sweat. Her English-language solo project goes by the pseudonym Laura Sauvage, and it is a departure for her from the folksier sound of Les Hay Babies. On the upcoming album Extraordinormal, Laura Sauvage’s slacker-rock sounds nonchalant, but you can tell that Roy knows how to apply her songwriting craft.
In the tradition of singer-songwriters before her, Roy features two key instruments: her voice and her guitar. She is supported by a band that drives the music forward and keeps things tight without being too buttoned-up. Everything on the album is soaked in reverb, which puts all the music in a bit of a haze, like the back room of a house party.
As a singer, Roy slouches her way through laid-back pop-rock melodies in a low register that draws the listener in, rather than trying to come out dazzling. The cool facade is there – sometimes she mutters, and sometimes she yells – but it all feels true to the spirit of the stories she is telling.
Her electric guitar takes on a variety of simple and distinct voices. At times, like on “Rubberskin” and the raw closing track “You’ve Changed (Wild Session),” she rings out a bare, clean tone to accompany her vocals. There are also fresh takes on the ringing, echoing surf-rock tones of the ’60s, and some heavier distortion on grungier tunes like “Have You Heard The Good News?” Sometimes, less is more, and Roy (as well as ‘guitar hero’ Olivier Langevin) put that into practice here.
Lyrically, the album is full of tales for disaffected youth – the losers, the punks, the aimless. The misfits who find each other in “White Trash Theatre School” include a kid in a P.E.I. Dirt Shirt, a great nostalgic nod to cheesy Canadiana. In “F***er (Stole My Phone)”, Roy gets aggressive about a would-be Prince Charming who turns out to be anything but. The words are plain and self-aware, and completely relatable to the 20-something demographic Roy belongs to.
Indie rock has taken on a lot of different definitions in the past couple decades, but there is always a drive to navigate the real world without getting too jaded. Vivianne Roy is a skilled songwriter, and Laura Sauvage seems like a character she has developed, a narrator for the confusing years of young adulthood. The stories don’t have to be true, and the music doesn’t have to be pitch-perfect. What matters is that it’s cool – almost without even trying.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: LAURA SAUVAGE – EXTRAORDINORMAL