posted on August 03, 2009 19:00
The wider world’s perception of music from France is still based on a clique of ‘French touch’ electronica bands who’ve been around for over a decade. International audiences seem to be enthralled by anything French that goes ‘blip’ or ‘bleep’, flavoured with varying degrees of dreamy synths or skuzzy guitars.
But to our ears it’s all starting to sound tired. The new Phoenix album, ‘Wolfgang Amadeux Phoenix’, gives the impression of a band happy to consolidate rather than innovate. Air’s new track, ‘Do The Joy’, sounds like most Air tracks off their last two records – incidental music for some boho existentialist arthouse movie. And what have Daft Punk been doing lately?
‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ was produced by Philippe Zdar, né Philippe Cerboneschi, one half of Cassius and another member of this clique. Perhaps less well known internationally than their peers, Cassius (right) can nonetheless point to two cracking singles in their back catalogue – the banging remix of ‘1999’ and the slashing guitars of ‘Toop Toop’ from 2006.
Now Cassius are back with a new song from a forthcoming E.P. ‘Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes’ is the title and complete lyric of the track. It starts with an air-raid siren and features a catchy ascending-scale figure duplicated on guitar strums and a thin synth line. The lyric is shouted by teen-sounding voices, recalling ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ by Justice, the most recent off the assembly line of French electronic duos.
All this is packed into the opening thirty seconds – but the whole thing just repeats itself for the remaining three and a half minutes. It all feels a bit laboured, as if that one decent hook has to carry the whole track. Perhaps a canny remix can breathe some life into it.
The B-side, ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, is as mundane as the title suggests – dancefloor electronic that bangs out one keyboard riff ad infinitum. Or maybe your correspondent is just completely bored by le French touch and yearns for something exciting and new to happen here in Paris.
Judge for yourself – here’s ‘Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes’ by Cassius, set to extracts from Harmony Korine’s ‘Gummo’: