Francoise Hardy is mostly known as a pop chanteuse with mild rock influences. It comes as something of a shock, then, to stick this into the CD player and hear her backed by assertive, guitar-oriented modern rock arrangements. Hardy's delivery hasn't changed much; it's still a mixture of fetching sensuality and composed reserve. What has changed is the music, with its emphasis upon gutsy guitar textures that sound influenced by '90s alternative rock--a bit of grungetone here, some Brit-pop energy there, some rootsy slide work (on "Ici Ou La?") in the mold of Ry Cooder. Many middle-aged pop singers move from gritty rock to lighthearted MOR. Hardy, unusually, seems determined to move in exactly the opposite direction. It's not as good as, or very similar to, the charming sentimental pop of her youth. Yet it's not at all embarrassing, with a couple of tunes ("Dix Heures En Ete" and "Contre-Jour") that would have definite hit potential, in the best sense of the word, were they sung in English. Whatever you think, one would be hard-pressed to name other rock singers in their early fifties, from France or anywhere else, that managed to sound unassumingly contemporary in the mid-'90s.