Friday, January 30, 2009

[Insert Poorly Conceived French Pun]

Le Pop/Les Filles -- les chansons de la nouvelle scène française
(Le Pop)
It's ladies night at the world's most accurately named label. And when they say pop, they mean it. These 16 songs bubble and roll with effortless charm, burnishing American and British college-radio fare with big smears of intercontinental sensuality.

Coralie Clément, one of two artists here who made a minor splash in the United States, contributes the hypnotic "So Long Babylone" which stacks ukulele and melodica on a rhythmic piano imitating a spare dub-reggae bass.

The other potentially familiar name is Mélanie Pain, who sang on both Nouvelle Vague albums. Her "Celle de Mes 20 Ans" does a keen impression of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'"* -- a move that recalls the ye-ye girl imitations of '60s rock, except Pain can sing circles around the best of that era of French pop.

The only pothole on this road is Austine's "Cupide et Stupide" -- perhaps because the lyric's so easily translated -- but more likely because the song feels so ordinary among the embarrassment of creativity surrounding it.

Françoiz Breut's mournful "2013" must be a three-hanky job for the French. It's still plenty funereal for the rest of us. There's a tipsy circus waltz from Loane ("Petit Bonheur"); brisk new wave from Poney Express ("Paris de Loin"); and the nature hymn "Si Tu Reviens J'annule Tout" by Jeanne Cherhal.

As a buffet of modern French pop, Les Filles is worth the investment. Whatever the boys are up to, the women set the bar high.

Reference material: If you like any of the music from the artist links above, then Le Pop has more where that came from. Get yourself a copy of Les Filles, it's as good a place as any to start exploring a label that The Typing Monkey has championed before.

*[Originally written and recorded by Fred Neil. -- ed.]