The French neoclassical darkwave band Collection d'Arnell-Andréa founded by Jean-Christophe d'Arnell (main composer, writer, piano/keyboards) and Chloé St Liphard (vocalist) in 1986 are back with their 10th studio album. The album "Another Winter" was released on February the 22nd, by Trisol, 9 years after their previous album "Vernes-Monde" on the Prikosnovénie label.

Here, Jean-Christophe d'Arnell composes once again melancholic poetic music combining cello and keyboards with the outstanding voice of Chloé Saint-Liphard, the female-singer. This time, their darkwave, neoclassical style has been merged with downtempo and synth-pop elements. From the first song "By The Pond" we are introduced to their new modern sound. More ethereal dreamy pop and less modern classical. On "Pangs Of Severance" Chloé sings over electric noisy guitars, arpeggio synths and a minimalist rhythmic loop. The next track "LeJour Venu" is more familiar since it moves in the romantic style, that we are accustomed to, with nice touches of piano. The same can be said for "LesBlés-Océans" or even the groovier "The Grief Of Waves", since they also sound fresh retaining that trademark emotional feel. The production is neatly done combining modern studio tech and drum programming to their symphonic classical structure.

On "TheShade Of A Flower", things get a bit darker and we get to hear the first track dominated by male vocals. "Barks Of Rime" that follows is another beauty with Chloé’s voice sounding as soft as velvet. On "LesBancs De Sable" and "Des Étangs En Exil" things become more electronic but with the tenacious melancholy of a nostalgic piano adding to the melody. On the albums homonymous track "Another Winter", like on most of the other songs, the lyrics evoke the universality of passing times, the sorrows and the mourning. But the remarkable thing is that these contemporary elegies are turned towards the light, thanks to their heavenly vocals. It starts off more like an electro track by gradually it turns into the typical style of the band when the strings and martial drumming arrive in the mix. Towards the end we find "Les Périssoires" that start off as a calm delicate piece put progresses with a darker twist with addition of some spiraling effects and heavy guitar. The closing track "Saules Sans Voix" has a nice steady drum beat topped with cello and viola, giving it a breezy majestic feel. Ending the album on a slightly more optimistic note.

In general, none of the 12 tracks of "Another Winter" stand out. They all have the same quality. The whole album floats into our ears effortlessly. An elegiac album enmeshed in neoclassical drama and electronic finesse. The lead vocals provided by Chloé St Liphard are captivating, while the keyboards, drum programming, drums, backing vocals by Jean-Christophe d'Arnell are all top notch. The rest of the band, Vincent Magnien (guitar), Franz Torres-Quevedo (bass), Carine Grieg (piano), Xavier Gaschignard (cello) and Thibault D'Aboville (viola) all provide their parts effectively giving that extra touch to make the compositions sound whole.

Review by Nick Drivas