Most of your American friends don't know composer Yann Tiersen by name. But play a couple of ten-second clips from songs like the melancholy accordion-and-piano piece "La Dispute" or the waltzy whirlwind lament "J'y Suis Jamais Allé" and your test subject will almost immediately identify him as "that guy who wrote the music for that funny little French rom-com Amélie."
Now you can't blame les Américains for being ignorant. We love movies and television above all else. Still, it's a shocker that so few stateside ears have met with Tiersen's 16-year-old trove of postmodern folk tunes. After all, the guy is a musical hero in his native France with more than a dozen albums — including 1998's breakthrough La Phare (The Lighthouse) — and a reputation for collaborations with hipster icons like Jane Birkin and the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser.
On his most recent release, Dust Lane, Tiersen has tried again to overcome the U.S. audience's cineplex obsession. He started by signing to Epitaph's sister label, Anti-; hiring Sigur Rós and M83 superproducer Ken Thomas; and adding synthesizers and electric guitars to his gear list, alongside the usual accordion, piano, violin, banjo, and toy noisemakers. And if that weren't blatant enough for all of us popcorn junkies, the Frenchman offers the closing come-on "Fuck Me," a surprisingly stately synth ballad built around the refrain "Fuck me, fuck me/Make me come again."