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Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague

2.5 2
by Nouvelle Vague

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Marry the current yen for early-'80s post-punk with the cynical covers-mongering of a desperate record industry and the cool cachet of bossa nova, and you get this delicious ménage à trois. Nouvelle Vague presents seminal underground hits in a bubbly, Rio-by-way-of-Paris style. So Joy Division's grim "Love Will Tear Us Apart


Marry the current yen for early-'80s post-punk with the cynical covers-mongering of a desperate record industry and the cool cachet of bossa nova, and you get this delicious ménage à trois. Nouvelle Vague presents seminal underground hits in a bubbly, Rio-by-way-of-Paris style. So Joy Division's grim "Love Will Tear Us Apart Again" becomes a breathy seaside plaint; the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" recalls the yeah-yeah pop of Johnny Hallyday. The results are clever and pleasant and a welcome change from the by-the-numbers electronic lounge-a-nova that's become an inescapable part of nightlife. That seems to be the aim of Nouvelle's producing duo of Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, raising two fingers to the processed beat of lounge with subversive songs such as "Two Drunk to F*ck," every bit as itchy here as in the original version by the Dead Kennedys. Collin and Libaux made sure to hire young singers (eight of them) unfamiliar with the source material, keeping the renditions fresh and free from nostalgia. But it also seems like a bit of a cruel in-joke. If you're never quite sure whether people are laughing with you or laughing at you, you might be put off by this wry French confection. If you just don't give a damn, by all means kick off your heels and settle in to the year's slyest tribute disc.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
The best compliment that can be paid to Nouvelle Vague's self-titled debut album: it isn't as arch and smirking as a collection of bossa nova versions of new wave classics by fetching French and Brazilian chanteuses would suggest. Based on the concept alone, Nouvelle Vague seems similar to the work of jokesters like the Mike Flowers Pops or Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, but though the album is definitely playful, it works on a sincere level enough of the time to be more than just a goof. In fact, Nouvelle Vague's best moments are a tribute to how well written the words and melodies of these songs are; that they can withstand, and even thrive in, such different arrangements is no small feat. Smooth, smoky ballads, such as the opening track, "Love Will Tear Us Apart," provide many of the album's highlights. The Cure's "A Forest" gets a tropical twist, complete with jungle sound effects, while the Sisters of Mercy's "Marian" remains as dark as ever but is now much more delicate -- call it gotha nova. On the other hand, the cover of the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck" is a giggly, sassy, mischievous standout that bears virtually no resemblance to the original. Likewise, the serpentine version of Killing Joke's "Psyche" is radically different from the original, nor does it quite fit in with the rest of Nouvelle Vague's bright, breezy feeling, but its spooky vibe makes it one of the album's most interesting tracks. Two of the best covers come from a couple of the least well-known bands on the collection: Tuxedomoon's "In a Manner of Speaking" is transformed into a gorgeous, completely convincing torch song, and Josef K's "Sorry for Laughing" closes the album on a sweetly languid note. Not all of Nouvelle Vague is this inspired -- the version of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" is overly fussy, and while the covers of songs like "I Melt With You" and "Making Plans for Nigel" are nice enough, they don't have the spark of the album's best moments. But even at its worst, Nouvelle Vague is still pleasantly witty background music. This unlikely, but mostly happy, marriage of new wave and bossa nova will probably disappoint or displease purists who believe that every version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" should have the brooding intensity of the original, but everyone else can enjoy the album's playful elegance.

Product Details

Release Date:
Luaka Bop


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nouvelle Vague   Primary Artist
Camille   Track Performer
Daniella D'Ambrosio   Track Performer
Eloisia   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Paul Haig   Composer
Martin Atkins   Composer
Vince Clarke   Composer
Ian Curtis   Composer
Mathieu Hartley   Composer
Peter Hook   Composer
Wayne Hussey   Composer
John Lydon   Composer
S. Morris   Composer
Colin Moulding   Composer
David Sheppard   Liner Notes
Paul Simonon   Composer
Winston Tong   Composer
S. Walker   Composer
Bernard Sumner   Composer
J.F. Coleman   Composer
Nouvelle Vague   Producer
H. Louise Jones   Composer

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Nouvelle Vague [14 Tracks] 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nouvelle Vague's choice of covers is a clever marketing maneuver, drawing in suckers for early 80s treasures &quot like myself&quot and the always seductive promise of lounge music. This is - like many films now directed at aging hipsters &quot again, like me&quot - a commodity offering a re- packaging of the comfortingly familiar. And while I find myself pleased at the very thought of lounge-like covers of 'Making Plans for Nigel' or 'I Melt With You', this album does justice neither to the originals or its attempts to recreate them. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this album is Nouvelle Vague's decision to only cover songs by bands of working-class males, relying too much on their singer's sugary-sweet delivery to make each song both an unexpected novelty and &quot almost inevitably&quot a disappointment. The originals of songs like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and 'Guns of Brixton' hold special meaning in the context of their production: the desperation of young Westerners in the midst of Reagan and Thatcher-era horrors. I do not know if Nouvelle Vague hoped to recapture the emotional weight of these songs &quot or just poke fun at it&quot , but the results are ambiguous at best and insulting at least. In the album's lowest moments, the singer's pointless side-comments &quot in 'I Melt With You', she quips 'I made a pilgrimage to save the human race &quot yes I did'&quot are fully wince-inducing. I actually had to turn it off, occasionally. This album's failure as a cover project would be less irritating if its performance as lounge music were any more acceptable. However, by and large, the songs are poorly executed, uninspired, and seemingly drawn directly from the sheet music translations. Most tracks feature minimally programed drum loops and cookie cutter synthesizer parts of a Burt Bacharach quality - repetitive, emotionless, and unprovocative. And again, the singer's phrasing is overly-sensual, breathy, and Betty Boopish. I'm sure it would take a lot to make 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' sound flat and disingenuous, but Nouvelle Vague makes it happen. So... as if it's not apparent yet... I dislike this album. More troubling though, is that this seems to be one more product targeting people - former punks and new wavers - who &quot seemingly&quot would be more critical about being delivered such pap, dressed in the clothes of their most beloved songs and artists. It suggests to me that this phase in music, which purportedly questioned so much about gender, class, and the good intentions of the state, was in fact far more shallow and success-driven than it let on. But if that's your bag, go ahead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago