Beloved Quebec folk-rock band Les Cowboys Fringants dropped their long awaited album, Les Antipodes, on Oct. 4. The group had not released new music since 2015, and fans were eager to see if this classic band would stay true to their roots after such a long break. Les Cowboys Fringants have always been known for the political commentary they weave into their songs, and recurring topics include Quebec sovereignty, environmental justice, and voter apathy. As the political climate has only grown more tense since their last album was released, fans anticipated a commentary-heavy album, and Les Antipodes did not fall short.
On the evening of the launch, Les Cowboys held a party at La Tulipe, where they signed CDs and DJs entertained the crowd with techno versions of their previous albums. Members of the crowd ranged from children to the elderly, and businessmen dressed in suits stood next to college students wearing sweatshirts and sneakers. Despite the diverse backgrounds of the crowd, everyone shared a common excitement at the prospect of listening to the music Les Cowboys had worked on for the past four years.
The day before Les Antipodes was released for the public, the band uploaded its first single, “L’Amérique Pleure,” on YouTube. True to the band’s name, the music video features a line dancing instructor dressed as a cowboy leading a room full of people in a dance to the song. “L’Amérique Pleure” remains subtly political. The lyrics highlight the inequalities that lay behind the veneer of North American consumerism, musing that “…behind the beautiful landscapes/there is so much inequality/and suffering on the faces”*. The song expresses the sadness and frustration towards the current state of affairs and the hypocrisy the band sees in controlling a complacent population.
No two songs on Les Antipodes feel or sound the same. There are long, somber ballads like “Sur Mon Épaule” sandwiched by folksy dance songs like “La Traversée (de l’Atlantique en 1774),” whose upbeat instrumentals contrast with the heavy subject matter it explores. The eclectic mix of songs make it easy for the band to reach a wider audience: There is truly something for everyone in the wide variety of genres they borrow from, making the album a delight to loyal fans and new listeners.
*Quotation was translated from its original French