new music mondays: indochine;
This week’s review was a new one on me, and was in fact a belated birthday present which arrived when my postie finally got his act together! Among the thoughtful presents that my French friend Audrey sent over was the new album by her favourite local band. “I know you won’t understand the lyrics,” she wrote in the accompanying card, “but I wanted to share a part of my French life with you.”
According to Wikipedia, Indochine have been around since 1981 and this year’s release, La Republique des Meteors, is their 11th studio album. With a pedigree like that, and the increased prominence of French names such as Phoenix among my regular blogging reads, I was really keen to give it a listen. It also describes them as “new wave”, a term I’ve never really understood, but when “Go Rimbaud Go!” bursts out of the traps after a short introduction, all strident and bright and alive, I think I finally get it.
Now I’ve always considered myself a “lyrics” person. I’ve had pub arguments with my brother over which is more important – perfect songs form a complete package of course, but Dom says you can say what you like about cadence and cleverness, it’s the melody that grabs you first. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I’ve always been drawn to the verbose and the lo-fi and you couldn’t call many of my favourite artists “singers”, really. So it was interesting to spend some time with an album I could only consider on the music.
It helped that the music was pretty damn good. Curiously, this sort of slick production is the sort of thing I would normally shun in my native tongue as it tends to be bogged down with “are we human or are we dancer”-style accompaniment, but tracks like “Republika” and “Je T’Aime Tant” are gorgeously uplifting and the perfect companion to my current post-work walks. Even as I type this from my sofa, my toes are involuntarily tapping. I wonder if that’s why the more ‘epic’ tracks, such as “La Lettre de Metal”, left me cold, and the disco into to “Play Boy” really wasn’t my thing at all until the guitars kicked in.
Ultimately the big difference here were in style, not substance. Music is a complex beast after all, and so many of the aspects of a song we connect with transcend the language barrier. “Bye Bye Valentine”, by far my favourite song from the album, is glorious for example – and would make my heart ache in any language.
Give the tracks below a listen, and let me know what you think.