Friday, September 19, 2014
Le Pop: Les Filles - Various Artists
Le Pop Musik LPM 20-1
I am a big fan of French pop in the 1960s and early 1970s but I haven't kept up with their music scene since then. What I've seen in French films and the occasional TV show (my wife used to subscribe to a French cable channel) did not make me think I was missing much. However when I stumbled across a bargain-priced copy of this album, I picked it up to see what was going on over there. It is part of a series of albums issued by a German record company that survey contemporary French music. This one offers a generous sampling of 16 tracks focusing on female singers. I'd only heard of two of them prior to buying this album - Coralie Clément who I know as an actress and Mélanie Pain who I know from the group Nouvelle Vague which I am a fan of. My favorite track is Poney Express' "Paris de Loin" which is pure indie rock driven by a great bass riff. It has a lot of pop appeal and it gets me bopping. The group is a duo featuring Ana Berthe on vocals and Robin Feix on bass. My other favorite song is Fredda's "Barry White" which features a slinky vocal over a hypnotic melody as she recalls her youth dancing in discos in Marseille. I also really like Barbara Carlotti's "Mademoiselle Opossum" which benefits from a propulsive rhythm track and some sensuous horn work that supports her alluring vocal. Coralie Clément sweetly croons "So Long Babylone" over a chunky rhythm track and a charming ukelele riff. The song was written and produced by her brother, Benjamin Biolay. Mélanie Pain's "Celles de Mes 20 Ans" sounds nothing like her work with Nouvelle Vague. It is poppy folk-rock that her breathy vocal invests with feeling. "Je Ne Te Quitterais Jamais" by a duo called Doris Park is a lovely, atmospheric song delicately sung in French and English by the group's lead singer, Maria Törnqvist who is Swedish. "Cupide et Stupide" by Austine is charming twee indie pop with a jaunty melody that makes me happy as I listen to it. The liner notes compare the song to Belle and Sebastian, but I think Camera Obscura is a more accurate comparison. "Les Hasrads" by C++ is perhaps the most interesting track on the record being a swinging smorgasbord of 60s pop and synth pop driven by surf guitar and proggy mellotron over which Charlotte Gérand coolly sings. Several tracks sound like traditional French pop most notably Loane's waltz-like "Petit Bonheur," Maud Lübeck's low-key "Le Parapluie," Marianne Feder's jazzy "Toi Mon Indien" and best of all Marianne Dissard's "Les Draps Sourds" which mixes Chanson with Western Swing, it sounds like Edith Piaf performing with Bob Wills. She seems to be singing about an orgy, I wish my French was better, ha-ha. There are a few duds on the album. Constance Amiot's "Clash Dans le Tempo" is mild-mannered French hip-hop that bores me. Julie B. Bonnie's "Bonjour Monsieur" is a collaboration with Kid Loco. It has a strong beat but I find it monotonous. Françoiz Breut has a beautiful voice but her New Age-ish "2013" is tedious to me. According to the liner notes, Jeanne Cherhal's "Si Tu Reviens J'Annule Tout" is "scandalous" because it is based on a message that Nicholas Sarkozy sent to his ex-wife prior to marrying Carla Bruni. Maybe you have to be French to find that shocking, I just hear a dull ballad. Aside from Poney Express' track there is nothing on here that knocks my socks off, but I like just about every song although not enough to run out and buy a bunch of French records. It rarely rocks, but it rolls pretty well and has a nice mellow vibe to it. Recommended to Francophiles who dig Isobel Campbell and El Perro del Mar.