Tuesday, July 25, 2006

allez la france!



les sans culottes - 'fixation orale'

released: may 18, 2004
aeronaut records

suggested for review by 'the queen of everything'

songs: 1. toxico 2. allô allô 3. garçon culotté 4. tout va bien 5. train à grande vitesse 6. li kantu 7. téléphone douche 8. ménage à toi 9. la radio 10. poupée de cire 11. deux boules de glace 12. voyage au bout de l'ennui

Les Sans Culottes play boppy, raunchy, 60s yeh-yeh-influenced pop-rock songs in French (apart from a song in, erm, Esperanto), with such profound themes as ice cream. Oh, and they're from new york.

Are you scared? You shouldn't be. The faux-french bop of these crazy Americans (apart from the one genuinely French member, singer Celine Dijon) is actually quite compelling, and taken on a purely musical level, they're a sort of mix of the B-52's and bits of Le Tigre with Serge Gainsbourg, whose hit 'Poupée de Cire' is very amusingly covered here.

There's much more to them than that, though. one you get past the joke-band idea, you'll find they have proper songs to back all the craziness up, with plenty of variety to keep things interesting. 'Toxico' is one of the rockier songs, 'allô allô' showcases one of their main strengths, the male-female vocal duets, 'Tout Va Bien' is a dreamy ballad with swirling keyboards and harpsichord, while the singalong of that Esperanto song, 'Li Kantu', will glue itself to your brain for days.

Sure, it's all very camp and not very meaningful, but that's more or less the point. The childlike vitality of the melodies, a sort of The Magnetic Fields on prozac, will work like a charm whenever you play this for friends. If only for the conversation-piece effect of the quirky lyrics.
I won't even mention the possibilities of 'Ménage à Toi', but it's not every day that you can engage someone in conversation at a party with the line 'so do you know what a téléphone douche is?'.

the good: a silly bout of great faux-french fun with wonderfully witty lyrics and proper songs to back it up
the bad: will be too camp for some, the joke-band tag might be hard to dispel when trying to take their music seriously

7 comments:

  1. the queen12:53 pm

    i don't see how the magnetic fields would sound like les sans culottes, even on valium. hmpf.

    regardless,, i never thought they were doing "real music", it's rather a record full of clever pastiches - alluding to everything from serge all the way down to the angry urban kids like NTM.

    in any case, get out your white go-go boots and sing along with celine (loving the pseudonym!).

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  2. i find some of the jollier plonky-plonk tunes of the magnetic fields similar, in the simplicity of the melodies. maybe it's just me. :)

    i do agree with your analysis, but the songwriting is good enough to stand on its own as 'real music', too.

    and my favourite of their pseudonyms is jean-luc retard. :D

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  3. queenie7:03 pm

    valium is a sedative, but how are les sans culottes sedate?

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  4. prozac, i meant prozac. them being happier than the magnetic fields and all. i'm no good with drugs. :)

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  5. Hey Jose Carlos.

    Thanx for your visit and comments. I'm glad to help in encouraging musical expansion and even re-evaluation. I see here you quite a broad taste in music as well as a great appreciation. Nice work!

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  6. Hey Jose Carlos.

    Thanx for your visit and comments. I'm glad to help in encouraging musical expansion and even re-evaluation. I see here you quite a broad taste in music as well as a great appreciation. Nice work!

    ReplyDelete
  7. hehe, thanks. some would call my varied tastes 'insane', i'm glad you were polite. ;)

    but yeah, you've got a loyal reader here. keep up the good work!

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