Julien Barbagallo from Toulouse is the drummer for Tame Impala and at the same time a fundamentally European, basically French songwriter. You can clearly hear that in every intro, verse and chorus of his songs. It results in great French pop, that contains elements of folk, prog rock and chanson. Last album Grand Chien (Big Dog) was released in October 2016 by Arista/Sony Music. It is literate but never heavy, eccentric but never complicated and personal but never exclusive.
Julien Barbagallo has a long history of exploring the boundaries of French song with his group Aquaserge and his solo Lecube project. Like so many of his compatriots, Julien has long sung the secrets of his soul in English, mainly for reasons of convenience. Yet now, after a few years of exile in Australia, especially as antipodean indie-pop institution Tame Impala’s master of toms and hi-hats, ‘Big Dog’ (as he is known down under) has taken advantage of his linguistic isolation to unshackle his tongue, words and ideas, and return to his past and roots. It is just as much a revelation for him as for us: on Grand Chien, Barbagallo lets fly with the words and accents of his mother tongue (the distinctive French of his native Albi). Dropping the mask for the first time, in one flowing movement, he embraces every inch of his identity, down to its most complex obscurities, ridding himself of the ready-made clichés of pop in the language of Shakespeare and Elvis Presley. With a startling obviousness, we find him reborn: the only artist of his kind, a major driving force in the world of a progressive French pop that is set to continue its pyrotechnics.