Les Bonbons – Les Bonbons (Ciao Ketchup Recordings)
French/English vagabond pop duo, Les Bonbons, release their debut album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Naming yourself after the 1966 album by the legendary Jacques Brel would put pressure on any group to come up with the goods. The man that part influenced the likes of Marc Almond, Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker was nothing short of genius and should be celebrated far more than he is. His husky, half spoken tones were compelling to say the least, and the man wrote pure poetry.
Essentially made up of Fred Bonbon and Billy Bonbon (not related!) they bring you nine tracks, mostly sung in French which will set alight any soiree without a doubt. Strings, brass and a swaggering vagabond sound combine to bring you one of the year’s most intriguing and entertaining albums. Cited in some quarters as a classic, it comes very close.
Opener Le Diable Dans Ma Peau is bright and full of life as the French version of the aforementioned Pulp man. Brass is prevalent and the constant strum of acoustic guitar is complemented by a fab riff courtesy of its electric counterpart. It’s the perfect party opener and guaranteed to help the alcohol flow.
There’s a certain Francais moon-stomp about Amandine which continues to persuade your body to get up and do a daft dance that only you would enjoy. For a non-French speaker, the album is all about feel and soul, and it oozes character at every opportunity.
Starting with a string section, The Sexual Appetite Of The French contains both English and French and boasts the arrogance of a Chiselled tune by The Divide Comedy. Its brass section lifts the song up to another dimension almost without you noticing.
Recent single, Dans Le Lumiere darkens the atmosphere slightly as its creeping, haunting melody glistens lightly in the subtlest of moods. Les Bonbons have the ability to write songs which are perfectly arranged and executed. Folamour shows that they are also well versed in faux soul-pop effort, complete with a chorus of backing singers and a contagious melody.
Closer, Tendrement is slower and low key, the hypnotic vocal and hook gently building and rising to the climax and a fine fine album. The pressure is now on for album number two.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on twitter both as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news, or as @hiapop. His blog is also on Facebook.