Québécoise piano chanteuse Béatrice Martin, aka Cœur de Pirate, leaves behind the yéyé-inspired sound of her sophomore album in a bid for mainstream international pop success. Produced by a trio of alt-pop tastemakers and recorded in Sweden and the UK, Roses (her first record largely in English) explores Martin’s move through heartbreak and doubt to the joys and epiphanies of love and motherhood, all while still in her mid-20s.
Her girlish vocals sound more romantic en français, and the handful of French songs offer a grandeur missing from the pop-focused anglo tracks, but her intimate lyrics and knack for melody still translate. Subtle electronics and updated production serve to amplify her piano-pop sound (the gorgeous Oceans Brawl is a highlight) but surely nobody was calling for a rap feature on a Cœur de Pirate album, like the awkward guest verse by -Allan Kingdom shoehorned into I Don’t Want to Break Your Heart (otherwise likely the best bet for mainstream radio play).
Bilingualism aside, there’s little that makes Martin’s pretty songcraft stand out from other like-minded contemporary artists. But given her obvious talent and willingness to push the boundaries of her sound, there’s no question she’s well on her way to finding her own place on the pop spectrum.
Top track: Oceans Brawl
Cœur de Pirate plays the Phoenix October 7.