When I first heard about Nouvelle Vague before their debut album came out, I didn't know what to make of it. I wanted with all my might for the album to be something glamorous and incredible, but deep down I had reservations and fear that it would come across as lame; something that no one (save the 12 year old girls and/or soccer moms of the world) would find mildly entertaining. The whole idea of young French girls belting out new wave tunes with a bossa nova twist walked the fine line of either being something grand or a flop. Thank goodness it wasn't the latter.
Now, on the group's second effort, Bande A Part, Nouvelle Vague finds themselves dabbling with deeper new wave cuts ranging from artists like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Buzzcocks to Bauhaus and U2. The thing that makes Nouvelle Vague so intriguing is that it's not like other cover records out there. (God help me if I see one more cover/"tribute" album to The Smiths done by screamo bands.) Nouvelle Vague recreates each song with love and dedication and the end result is something new and fresh. They aren't just covering the song; they are making it their own. Someone told me that the gals singing had never even heard some of these tunes before and that is why, just going into the songs with no preconceptions. Personally, I find it a little hard to believe that someone hasn't ever heard a note of "The Killing Moon," "Heart of Glass" or "Dancing With Myself" before. I would like to think that it's just sheer talent that makes the group great.
One of the best surprises on Bande A Part was the choice of "Bella Lugosi's Dead." Sadly, it's not the nine-minute-plus anthem that the original is, but what it lacks in time it makes up double fold in creativity. The sound of crunching leaves as someone is running away, the breathy vocals and the beating heart drums...quality, not quantity, is what this song is about. The bossa nova sounds are very apparent in "Shack Up," a track that screams the warmth of summer mixed with the cool carefree beach atmosphere styling. Not straying away from the new wave classics, the take of New Order's "Confusion" is equally as entertaining, featuring the soothing sound of a trickling stream nearby making the listener yearn for some sangria.
While this album is very similar to the debut, it still stands out on its own. If you are a newcomer to Nouvelle Vague, or if you wanted to dismiss them thinking that they were just a one off, check out this record. Nouvelle Vague is not a novelty band. They are the real deal and I can't wait to see them on their fall tour. You should look forward to it as well.
"The Killing Moon"