No-Skip Saturday: Requin Chagrin’s Sémaphore


Welcome back to another week of “No-Skip Saturday,” (this week published on a Sunday though) the column where a self-proclaimed album-hater shares albums she finds can be listened to all the way through, no skips necessary. Today we’re dipping our toes into a new language, music from a new country (well, new to the column.) Requin Chagrin is a Parisian artist whose work I found in a Spotify playlist called “The Sound of French Shoegaze.” Her voice sounds slightly reminiscent of Nico’s — deep, smooth, and emotive. The album featured today is her 2019 sophomore release, Sémaphore, a surfy, synthy, dream pop album that draws the listener in from the first note to the last.

This album is different from the others I’ve featured thus far because I definitely do not know French well enough to get to appreciate this album from a lyrical standpoint, which is normally why I love an album from beginning to end. This album I mostly love due to the consistency of Chagrin’s vocals and the ease of listening that the album gives me. It’s especially great to listen to while studying or would make great dinner/cocktail party music: it’s cool and consistent, danceable and also easy to focus on. Whenever I listen to it I find myself yearning for the experience of a concert in Paris, the crowd swaying and dancing to these fun and romantic tracks. Certain songs are more melancholic while others are carefree, but the surf-rock and dream-pop influences make the entire album flow into an album with no skips necessary.

 The opening track, “Croisades” is one of my favorites on the record, with Chagrin’s voice soaring above a beating heart of soft drums with the synth and guitar that flow through the entire record. This song along with the others on the album exude a core of romanticism, and just make you feel calm. The lyrics talk about the Mediterranean, an influence that Chagrin has taken into her music for her entire time as an artist. Other tracks on the album such as “Nuit” utilise a humming coupled with powerful and soothing vocals: Chagrin knows she has a great voice and is not afraid to use it. “Nuit” is one of the more sad songs on the record, with Chagrin echoing “Sommes-nous seuls sur la terre?” Over and over, translated to “Are we alone on the earth?” Regardless of whether you know French or not, you’re able to sense the feelings of loneliness on this track, a marker of a great artist and great song. 

“Nuit” flows directly into “Dans le coeur,” by contrast a more upbeat track on the record, but the transition feels anything but abrupt. The following is one of my favorites on the record, “Les promesses,” which is a lilting song that sticks in your head. This can be said about every song on the record — the entire thing is a perfect example of the French dream-pop that holds such a soft spot in my heart, one of my favorite genres as of late. Once you start listening to this record, you’ll get sucked in, and I guarantee you will love it just as much as I’ve come to. Listen to the album below.

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