The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


What's the summer equivalent of 'hibernating'? 'Estivating'? Anyway, France is slowly reawakening from its traditional August slumber on the beach/beside the pool - everyone's back to school, work, politics and normal life.

Here in Paris the metro is packed again, all the boulangeries are open... and France's music stars are launching their new products. It's la rentrée!

For those who consume their music through the gossip mags (coming soon: the Amy/Pete/Britney love triangle), the most notable French record this season bears a similarity to last year's big rentrée release - an '80s child singing star of glamorous background, returning to high-profile music after concentrating on acting. Last year it was Charlotte Gainsbourg and her fine '5:55' album; this time around it's Vanessa Paradis, whose new album 'Divinidylle' comes out on 3 September.

Nowadays best known for being a Chanel model and Johnny Depp's rather emaciated partner, she will forever be famous in the English-speaking world for 'Joe Le Taxi', her breathy and suggestive 1987 single that established her as a Lolita-esque sex symbol. Nowadays, looking and listening back, it's striking how innocent the song actually is: it's really just about a guy driving a taxi!  That said, the song sounds fantastic - compared to today's cluttered and compressed production values, 'Joe Le Taxi' has the same sparseness as 'Walking On The Moon', married to a breezy summer vibe.

Interestingly, French press coverage of Vanessa's return has been skipping over her 1992 English-language album with her then boyfriend/Svengali Lenny Kravitz. This may be mere forgetfulness due to the album being fairly unspectacular; 'Be My Baby' was a catchy UK hit but the rest of the record was just harmless '60s French-pop pastiche.

'Divine Idylle', the chart-topping title track and first single off her new album, is something similar - well-made but unremarkable jangly guitariness with Mlle Paradis' breathy French vocals. And it doesn't have a chorus, it seems. Still, we'll never discourage any French acts from making glamorous Paris-pop. Vas-y, Vanessa.

Coincidentally, on the same day as the return of la Paradis, Manu Chao (left)follows up his summer single 'Rainin' In Paradiz' with his new album 'La Radiolina'. You can hear extracts from it on Chao's website. By the high standards of his ethno-pop back catalogue, 'Rainin' In Paradiz' was a stale lump of terrace-rock, so hopefully it's not typical of the album.

France's biggest international star is touring Europe in October; there's a string of dates up and down Britain but no Irish concert as yet. Surely some savvy Irish promoter will realise that the huge numbers of French, Spanish, Italians and South Americans in Ireland (oh, and plenty Irish too) will fill multiple nights of Chao at any Irish venue.

Many French indie fans are waiting impatiently for the new release by Deportivo (right), a three-piece from the Paris region. Their second album, 'La Brise' (produced by Strokes collaborator Gordon Raphael) comes out on October 24.

However, we reckon the French indie-pop album of the autumn will be 'The Fortune Teller Said', the second long-player by Grenoble band Rhesus. At first we were less than enthusiastic about first single 'Hey Darling' but recently it's been growing on us.

But, judging by magazine covers and airplay, la rentrée 2007 belongs to Vanessa Paradis, so here's the video for 'Divine Idylle':

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.