Various Artists - Pop Romantique (Emperor Norton)
April March - Chrominance Decoder (Ideal/Mammoth)
Reviews by Courtney Knopf
I have a terrible weakness for kitschy cute European (especially French)
disco pop. Even though I don’t understand most of what’s being said, I
can’t help but bop my head from side to side and imagine myself
traipsing down the Champs Elysses straight out of a Truffaut film.
Emperor Norton Records seem to be duking it out with Chicago’s Minty
Fresh label over who has the cutest pop bands on their roster. Home to
bands like The Fantastic Plastic Machine and Arling & Cameron, they’ve
built up a reputation for fun pop. Their newest release, Pop
Romantique, is a tribute of sorts to French pop classics as performed by
a wide variety of modern indie artists like Ivy, The Apples In Stereo
and Magnetic Fields.
Serge Gainsbourg, who for many served as an introduction to 1960’s
French pop, has four songs covered on this collection. Ivy serves up a
breathy version of "L’anamour" while singer/songwriter John Wesley
Harding adeptly emotes his way through "Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M’en
Vais." Françoise Hardy, who’s quiet lilt is also a cornerstone of French
pop of the 60’s, collaborates with the members of Air on an original
tune called "Jeanne." Lloyd Cole sings "Si Tu Dois Partir," which is the
French translaton of a Bob Dylan song while Colorado’s Apples In Stereo
wrote an original called "Avril En Mai."
At first glance, American chanteuse April March doesn’t seem to be the
most likely candidate to offer up a platter of frothy French pop, but
her first domestic release, Chrominance Decoder proves otherwise.
March, born Elinor Blake in New York City, has a sweet womanchild voice
that bubbles forth like an uncorked bottle of champagne. She sings both
in French (which she has been speaking since age 3) and English, and her
music has a definite sense of wry humor to it. No surprise since this is
the woman who co-wrote the classic "Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence"
for Ren & Stimpy (and was also an animator for the show).
The music slips in and out of dreamy trip hop (including remixes by
Ideal label mates, The Dust Brothers) and 60’s French pop, reminiscent
of Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy. "Sugar" is a deceptively upbeat
tune about being left by a lover, while the title track is a slightly
unflattering look at someone being made famous by television. "Garden
Of April," Mignonette" and "No Parachute" round out the adorably cute
American In Paris vibe that this album gives off.
Chrominance Decoder- [89%]
Pop Romantique- [95%]
Buy Chrominance Decoder at Amazon.com!
Buy Pop romantique at Amazon.com!