Exsonvaldes’ “Maps” – a musical cartography of eco-anxiety and irony

After a six-year hiatus, French indie-pop trio Exsonvaldes is back with their highly-anticipated fifth studio album, “Maps.” Founded twenty-five years ago during engineering studies in Paris, this group of mathematician rockers creates a unique musical identity rooted in astute tones that reflect their scientific background.

“Maps” is a concept album that serves as a musical cartography of their journeys through cities like London and Turin, but it’s also a deep exploration of their evolving sound. The album takes listeners on a chronological voyage, starting in the nineties and moving towards the new century while referencing every pop decade since the seventies. With a backdrop of furious eco-anxiety, the trio keenly preserves the record format, crafting an A-side and B-side that delve into the urgent issues of our time.

The A-side opens with the impactful track “Change,” which confronts the harsh reality that everything is going to change because nothing ever changes. The B-side concludes with a farewell to Europe in the pre-Brexit prophetic song “Good-Bye Europe.” Throughout the album, both French and English songs feature tongue-in-cheek humour and irony. “Dansé” explores the denial that accompanies hangovers, while “Party People” mocks the excesses of nights out. In “Barbican,” featuring French-English singer Emma Broughton, the ravages of a battered England are poetically enumerated in haiku-style.

“Maps” is a musical journey that doesn’t shy away from addressing the world’s impending collapse due to environmental crises. Tracks like “Change,” “Rien Appris,” and “Silence & Hyperacusis” serve as alarm bells, blending irony, indie pop, and anxiety to give shape to a chaotic vision of today’s world.

The album was a labor of love, written, recorded, and produced nearly entirely by the trio. The mixing was entrusted to Etienne Caylou (known for his work with Louise Attaque and Mustang). Spending just over a year on the record, Exsonvaldes has delivered a finely tuned indie-pop gem that is sure to find resonance with its audience.