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Nouvelle Vague Vol.1 - Nouvelle Vague

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3 Reviews

Genre: Easy Listening / Artist: Nouvelle Vague / Explicit Lyrics / Audio CD released 2004-08-09 at Peacefrog

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    3 Reviews
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      05.03.2012 15:15
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      A brilliant album of cover songs that manage to change the mood of the originals

      Nouvelle Vague is the debut album from the band of the same name, released in 2004, and composed solely of cover versions of New Wave classics but reinterpreted with a Bossa Nova style. The female leads on each song were only permitted to perform on tracks that they'd never heard before, in order to ensure each cover version had a unique quality. The band's name itself, is a play on words, meaning 'New Wave' in French and 'Bossa Nova' in Portugese, so it manages to reflect both the source of their material, as well as their own style.

      Whilst Nouvelle Vague may seem an obscure band that many people would claim to have not heard of, many of their songs have actually been used as background music in popular advertising or television shows. I came across the band myself after hearing their version of 'In a Manner of Speaking' on the Channel 4 show, Sugar Rush. It was used in a pivotal scene and managed to convey a great deal of emotion, so I located the song title and quickly snapped up the album on Amazon. I then found myself noticing the other tracks on the album showing up on T-Mobile adverts, and the Inbetweeners promo for E4.

      Like the female leads, I was unaware of several of the original versions of these tracks, with 'Teenage Kicks' being the only one I had any familiarity with. So, whilst some might hold the originals close to their hearts and dislike any change to the format of the classics, I had no such attachment and was able to enjoy each song as an original piece, free of any expectations and preconceptions to how a song should sound.

      Immediately opening up with the seaside ambience of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', the album displays its relaxed, calm side contrasting wildly against the lyrics about heartbreak, but it works somehow. The next track, 'Just Can't Get Enough' escalates the pace with its frantic drum beat, with a shot of Parisian flavour deep at the heart of it. There is a carnival feel to this song which again works well, yet is totally opposite to the feel of the original version.

      My favourite song, mentioned earlier, is 'In a Manner of Speaking' which I've since avoided hearing the original of, because I am worried that it might change my opinon of this version. The vocal artist sounds so haunted and broken by her love that it touches me every time I listen to it. I enjoy listening to 'The Guns of Brixton', 'This is Not a Love Song' and 'Too Drunk to Fuck', but I find it hard to get an emotional connection to those particular tracks.

      There's a sense of darkness and mischief in 'Marian', which feels supernatural and ghostly and captures the other half of Nouvelle Vague's personality. At times, it can be light and frothy with evocatively summery ambient noises (airplanes, seagulls, etc) but then it can turn darkly mysterious, like a Grimm Fairy Tale, conjuring up images of forbidden forests, and haunted lakes. This dark nature shows up also in the later track, 'A Forest'.

      I am also quite fond of the downbeat mood to 'Making Plans for Nigel', although I am still unaware whether this is the intended mood of the original XTC song, but it certainly suits the lyrics here. The song that most people would be familiar with is 'I Melt With You' which featured on an iconic T-Mobile advert, a few years back.

      'Teenage Kicks', being the one song I had prior knowledge of before finding this album, maintains the fast pace of the Undertones original, and offers a different view of the same song, but I admit that the original is superior for its raw energy and spontaneity. I think this song is the one that divides most people when it comes to Nouvelle Vague's stylistic approach, as the original is considered on of the classic rock songs and any changes to it would be met with resistance, like any remakes of a classic. If you approach it as a different song, however, it is possible to love the two at the same time.

      'Psyche' is the weakest track on the album, with an unpleasant insect-like noise as the background, which is intended to make the listener feel uncomfortable alongside the pained interpretation of the lyrics. The album closes out with, 'Friday Night, Saturday Morning', as a perfect hangover track to wind down with. The lyrics at given full prominence, against a bare-bones backing track, telling an entertaining story of a night out with great lines, such as: 'Wish I had lipstick on my shirt, instead of piss stains on my shoes.'

      Overall, I really enjoyed this album, although I may be missing a certain dimension in my lack of knowledge to the changes to each song, so there may be others who can appreciate it on a whole different level. I recommend this to anyone who likes cover songs with completely different musical styles, as opposed to just different vocalists. It may divide some purists because it challenges the rules of how certain songs should be played, but that's exactly what true artists should do, rather than play things safe.

      This Review originally was posted on my blog
      (http://spiderjamb.blogspot.com/2011/12/nouvelle-vague-nouvelle-vague-2004.html)

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      • More +
        25.10.2009 11:09
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        Half killer and half filler

        Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague

        Nouvelle Vague are a French collective who covered New Wave songs on this album, their singers are generally silky voiced latin women, who bring an entirely new element to the song, along with the easy listening brass and strings accompaniment.

        This is a great backing track for dinner parties or social gatherings and has a real charm and style to it bringing together a cool genre with an interesting style variant, its available on Amazon.co.uk for £14.98.

        Tracks

        The tracks on the album are all covers of other bands, they are as follows:

        JOY DIVISION : Love will tear us apart (feat. Eloisia)

        In many ways this is one of the highlights of the album for me, hearing a seminal song being covered in an 'easy listening' style can be excruciating as you pretend to like it, but this actually does something entirely new with the song and makes it the bands own. The breathy French vocals of Eloisa give this a sexy edge which adds something different to an amazing song, it moves it in a new direction, obviously its not as good as the original but it does bring something new to the party.

        DEPECHE MODE : Just can't get enough (feat. Eloisia)

        Another triumph for the band, this bossa nova beat over a moody electro song is a real triumph, it sounds different but similar, using the wonderfully catchy chorus as the songs base, this is a dancey, jaunty number that loses the edge of the original song and makes this a happy, fun party song, again Eloisia's beautiful vocals lend themselves to this song perfectly.

        TUXEDOMOON : In a manner of speaking (feat. Camille)

        I have to admit I didn't know this song at all prior to hearing this album, but absolutely love it, Camille's silky smooth vocals entwine with gorgeous lyrics to create a really luxurious treat of a song, I have no idea what the original sounds like but don't care as this is perfect!


        THE CLASH : Guns of Brixton (feat. Camille)


        Nice attempt at a classic Clash song, you can hear the anger and angst in the tune, but the smooth music and beautiful voice of Camille give this song a different point of reference to the original, here your enjoying the rhythym and voice whereas in the original the lyrics anger and politicisation are the key elements.

        P.I.L. : (This is not a) love song (feat. Melanie Pain)

        Decent song, but very much filler in my view.

        DEAD KENNEDYS : Too drunk to f**k (feat. Camille)

        I love this song, it really does sound naughty but in different terms to the original, this is a naughty song to put on at parties, its very sexy and very decadent in a classy way, taking away the trashy feel of the original, again this song is made entirely different and benefits a great deal from its originality.

        THE SISTERS OF MERCY : Marian (feat. Alex)

        This song is ok, but lacks the substance of the original in any sense, disappointing.

        XTC : Making plans for Nigel (feat. Camille)

        I like this song simply from the perspective that this eloquent latin Chanteur singing about 'Nigel' sounds very odd and ethereal and adds an element of fantasy to this fantastic song, this works and is another of the albums good points.

        THE CURE : A forest (feat. Marina)

        A nice idea, but doesn't translate a decent (if not one of their best) Cure songs to this new environment at all.

        MODERN ENGLISH : I melt with you (feat. Silja)

        Ok, nothing more, not sure there is much to add, its a track to pass by to get to the next song!

        THE UNDERTONES : Teenage Kicks (feat. Melanie Pain)

        Brilliant recreation of the Undertones classic putting strings in where ferocious guitars were originally this is classy and still gets a real grip of the lyrics while having a more polished edge than the original, obviously its not as good as the Undertones version but sits alongside it perfectly as a companion piece.

        KILLING JOKE : Psyche (feat. Sir Alice)


        This is not a song i've got much time for, i'm not sure why but I didn't really get it, but I like the fact they try to cover songs so far out of their own arena of musical influence.

        THE SPECIALS : Friday night, saturday morning (feat. Daniella D'Ambrosio)

        Not the best Specials song to cover and not the best song on the album, this is a bit of a let down after some splendid versions of other bands songs.

        I found the album interesting at first, but now only listen to it for 5 or 6 songs, the rest are filler, the first two set the tone of the album perfectly and whilst hugely ambitious work, but i'd say half the songs are purely worth listening to for novelty whilst the rest bring something new and interesting to the table. I'd give it 3 out of 5 as there is some stand out stuff but you have to forward too many songs.

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        04.06.2007 17:55
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        A great album for both lovers of the bossa nova rhythm and 1980s synthesizer pop

        French producer Marc Collin conceived Paris-based Nouvelle Vague as a one-off enterprise that wasn't really meant to go anywhere. One of their aims was to show how, some of the classic songs of post-punk synthesizer pop that was produced in the early 1980s could be stripped down and reconstructed into a completely different format. In a way it was an enterprise born out of nostalgia. Nouvelle Vague - the name of the band - in part is a reference to young innovators of 1960s French cinema and can be fittingly translated as either new wave or bossa nova. The Brazilian bossa nova sound of the late 50s early 60s is actually translated as 'new wave'. After the recordings were made word soon spread about the new sound and the tracks began to appear on adverts and soundtracks. One song, an intoxicating version of Modern English's "I Melt You", was used by a particular mobile phone network. The completed album initially sold more than 200,000 copies by word of mouth alone and the band went on to perform live shows in Europe, the Americas and China.


        The songs don't necessarily outshine the originals but then they're probably not supposed to. Some work better than others and become real gems after a few listens. What I found was that there is something very personal about this album. The tracks have never had that much airplay but there is this warm familiarity with the songs. Nouvelle Vague delivers a strange and moody set of cover versions that sound so creepy and otherworldly. This no doubt has something to do with the laid back vocal style employed by the various female singers on the album. Apparently most of the vocalists remained unaware of the original songs being reinterpreted, which is possibly why the performances have such a liberated feel. The intelligent use of instrumentation and the way the boss-nova rhythm is effectively twisted into something dark and almost subversive brings something new to the originals whilst placing them each into an entirely different context. Although I wouldn't classify this as great album I would say that it is a cool experiment in musical fusion.


        I love the little sound effects on this album that you hardly notice at first but are sprinkled generously throughout the tracks; rolling waves, birdsong, children laughing, jungle sounds, car horns and conversing voices. A technical effect that echoes 1950s lounge music. I was trying to pin point the vocal sound on these songs and then it hit me - it sounds like some sultry French babe is singing in your Bathroom. Probably my favourite track on the album is the superbly melancholic rendition of XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" - dare I say it possibly better than the original but at the same time making you realise what a really great song it was. One of the best tracks; Tuxedmoon's "In a manner of speaking" is not a song that I was familiar with previously but this rendition is simply sublime and arguably outshines the original. Some might recall P.I.L.s "This is not a love song", which has been reinterpreted in a catchy laid back manner. "Marian" originally by The Sisters of Mercy is another catchy haunting number along with the phantasmagorical fairground-like interpretation of The Killing Moon (Echo and the Bunnymen). Other beautifully structured tracks but with eerie overtones are "I melt with you" (Modern English), "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Just Can't Get Enough" . "Teenage Kicks" is probably the only track that for me doesn't quite work. Nevertheless this is a great album recommended for both lovers of the bossa nova rhythm and 1980s pop.





        Tracks

        JOY DIVISION : Love will tear us apart (feat. Eloisia)
        DEPECHE MODE : Just can't get enough (feat. Eloisia)
        TUXEDOMOON : In a manner of speaking (feat. Camille)
        THE CLASH : Guns of Brixton (feat. Camille)
        P.I.L. : (This is not a) love song (feat. Melanie Pain)
        DEAD KENNEDYS : Too drunk to f**k (feat. Camille)
        THE SISTERS OF MERCY : Marian (feat. Alex)
        XTC : Making plans for Nigel (feat. Camille)
        THE CURE : A forest (feat. Marina)
        MODERN ENGLISH : I melt with you (feat. Silja)
        THE UNDERTONES : Teenage Kicks (feat. Melanie Pain)
        KILLING JOKE : Psyche (feat. Sir Alice)
        THE SPECIALS : Friday night, saturday morning (feat. Daniella D'Ambrosio)


        Priced at £10.99 at www.juno.co.uk

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      • Product Details

        Disc #1 Tracklisting
        1 Love Will Tear Us Apart
        2 Just Can't Get Enough
        3 In a Manner of Speaking
        4 Guns of Brixton
        5 This Is Not a Love Song - Melanie Pain
        6 Too Drunk to F***
        7 Marian
        8 Making Plans for Nigel
        9 Forest
        10 I Melt With You - Paavo Siljamaki
        11 Teenage Kicks - Melanie Pain
        12 Psyche - Sir Alice
        13 Friday Night Saturday Morning