Bracing, mesmerizing and innovative videos made him a worldwide star, but Belgium’s Paul Van Haver, a.k.a. Stromae, hits it on all cylinders on his second full-length album (in English, Square Root), which was already a huge hit in Europe before it was released this February in the U.S.
Mixing tight beats with an oh-so-slightly languid, behind-the-beat vocal delivery, Stromae strides from track to track — and style to style — with wit, humor and grace to spare. From the wordplay of his biggest hit, the EDM-soaked “Papaoutai” (Papa, où-t’es? – Dad, where are you?), the drunken break-up ballad “Formidable” (Wonderful), and the gender-bending dazzle of “Tous Les Mêmes” (All The Same), Racine Carrée is a perfectly constructed confection glazed with pop sheen, but one with daunting brains and a melancholy heart