The Clash, The Cure The Undertones, The Specials, hell even Sisters of Mercy, to name but a few…this could have been a horrible disaster. French electro producers Marc Collins and Olivier Libaux have revisited classic tracks from the late seventies and early eighties and put together a covers album designed to arouse and gently caress your ears.
Fans of the originals will no doubt be shrinking in horror at the mere thought of these artists being covered, but as the album opens with young Brazillian Eloisa’s "Love Will Tear Us Apart", you realise that this album does exactly what a covers album should do. It takes the original song, tears it apart, develops it and turns it into something new. This album isn’t about repugnant karaoke versions of your favourite tracks: instead it brings them into a whole new genre, that of the Nouvelle Vague.
Nouvelle Vague translates to New Wave in English and Bossa Nova in Portuguese, so it’s no shock that this is a combination of both. 8 young women (who have never heard the original songs) take care of the vocals here. Each song was originally sung by a man and smothered in attitude. In Nouvelle Vague, Collins & Libaux set out to reveal the elegance of the melodies behind the overbearing attitudes.
Never so is this more apparent than when the exuberant paranoia of PiL’s "This is not a Love Song" is replaced by the detached broodiness of Melanie Pain.
"In A Manner Of Speaking" is the stand-out track. The beautiful voice of Camille soars above the soft piano and drums, and lifts you up into a reverie. Suddenly you are in a French cabaret bar, with a broken-hearted beautiful chanteuse serenading you as you sip at a whiskey and smoke a Gitanes.
The bewitching vulnerability of the voices on these reworkings make this much more than a novelty covers album. Indeed the only track to slightly fall into novelty cover is Depeche Mode’s "Just Can’t Get Enough" which was probably novelty enough to start with. Approach this with an open mind and you’ll be sure to enjoy it.