Music » CD Reviews

Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague (Luaka Bop)

by

comment
The original post-punk era of the late '70s/early '80s may have been the most challenging and pessimistic time in the history of underground rock, which is why some aging misanthropes sneered when post-punk revivalists from the Faint to the Fever turned its forlorn sounds into the latest fad. Here the sneer is returned with a leer as the voguish post-punk cocktail is given a final twist of lime by Nouvelle Vague, a pair of French producers who hired sultry female singers (six French, one Brazilian, and one New Yorker) to render bossa nova renditions of decades-old classics that the singers had never heard in their young lives.

If the project is all about high concept -- "Nouvelle Vague" translates both as "new wave" and "bossa nova" -- it's also more consistently entertaining and illuminating than, say, The Grey Album. For all its soft sweetness, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is no less inscrutable and fatalistic than Joy Division's original, and other numbers reveal that their classic status is deserved as much for their solid tunesmithing as their sour shoegazing. "I Melt With You" is a no-brainer, but who knew the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck" was so catchy? Or that Gallic wit could be so winning?

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.