Julien Barbagallo: A Modern French Version of the Later Beatles


Catherine Hurwitz

When people remember the Beatles, they think of the British teen-idols who captivated the audience with the upbeat “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Hey Jude” and “Here Comes the Sun.” What they forget is a much more weird, psychedelic world of their later years with songs like “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” and “Carnival of Lights.”

On March 2, the rock band Tame Impala’s drummer Julien Barbagallo released his first solo album “Danse Dans Les Ailleurs,” which combines odd themes with the acoustic, singer-songwriter style and some computerization.

The title of the album translates to “Dance in Other Worlds,” and its entirety evokes a sense of the Beatles’ psychedelic years. After all, the first song on the album, “L’échappée” (The breakaway), features a video with a dancing, human version of colorful drugs. In his other songs, there are still some hints of these trippy themes, but they are less prevalent, especially if you do not speak fluent French.

One of the slower songs is “Longtemps possible” (Long time possible). With an arpeggio of instruments and an acoustic guitar, Barbagallo sings a duet with a female voice. Similarly, “Les mains lentes” (Slow Hands) is also one of the slower songs. Highlighting a jazzy saxophone solo with a single drum beat, it has a sweet sound, almost evoking the Beatles’ “Michelle” in some chord changes. “Nous ne sommes rien” (We are nothing) has a simplistic melody, in which Barbagallo sings the words “nous ne sommes rien” in an ascending major scale. The most computerized of all the songs is “Je me tais” (I am silent), as a straightforward rhythmic ostinato acts as the background to his far-spaced, monochromatic lyrics.

As for the instrumentation, Barbagallo uses his rhythmic accuracy that comes from being a percussionist to create catchy beats. The acoustic guitars produce a raw, easy-listening feel; however, some computerization makes the music more appealing to a modern, 2018 music scene.

At times he harmonizes with himself, provoking the harmonies of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. He does not only sound like them, for Barbagallo looks like he could fit in the 1960’s and 1970’s with his moppy, brown hair—he could be taken as a fifth (French) member of the Beatles.