French alternative rocker Damien Saez does the impossible on Jours Étranges: he creates a distinct and powerful voice out of the post-grunge rock sound. But unlike Creed and Bush and their ilk, Saez changes all the rules around and refuses to rehash ideas that were old to begin with. For example, the emotive singer and some noisy guitar are paired with a funky beat and dramatic keyboards, resulting in the grand and intense "Soleil 2000." The thickest sludge anthems are ended with minute-long piano codas. The songs are filled with beeps, noises, and Edge-like guitar parts without one hint of useless irony or angst-driven cynicism. Taking the sounds of the '90s and updating them for the next decade, Saez made an excellent album that deserves more credit. This should be a mandatory listen for every faux grunge band who littered the radio while Saez toiled in obscurity due to the notion that language is too big of a wall for American music fans to climb.