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Nouvelle Vague: Curiosities

review nouvelle vague x1 cong

Nouvelle Vague the band passed us by, we must confess. Nouvelle Vague to us was an album curated by David Byrne of a new wave of French folk bands, which was excellent.

This was still French — from a man who speaks it so well he could write “Qu’est-ce que c’est” in the Psychokiller lyrics — but not the band led by Olivier Libaux and Marc Collin.

Their name referred to the French New Wave cinema movement of the 1960s, the new wave music movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and the bossa nova (Portuguese for “new wave”), the style they often used. The project kicked off with a bossa nova version of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

This album is a 15th anniversary special, featuring previously unreleased recordings. They’re a one trick pony, albeit it’s done well.

The opener is Sweet Dreams, a bossa nova / reggae / world crossover. Anything that make Eurythmics seem interesting is good with us.

This is followed by a great cover of Madness’s My Girl. It’s slowed down and sung by Sophie Delila, who sounds like Tracy Thorn. Elsewhere, Brass in Pocket is not bad, un homme who goes under the stage name Slow Shiver delivering a nice crooner’s cover of the Pretenders classic.

The best song in its own right is a cover of Suicide’s Ghost Rider, with Phoebe Killdeer heavy-breathing the lyrics, and a minimalistic musical accompaniment. Also good is a dark, swampy rock n roll cover of The Beat’s Mirror in the Bathroom, more deep sighing from Ms Killdeer on vocals. A late-night jazz cover of I’m in Love With a German Film Star, young Shiver on vocals again, is also good.

The basic problem with this is that you only need to hear any of the covers once. It’s bit like Hayseed Dixie or Steve ‘N’ Seagulls — good musicians, a neat idea, but how often do you want a bossa nova covers album?


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