Saturday, 11 February 2012
Review: Maison Neuve
Maison Neuve - Joan (Talitres)
I’ve always had a soft spot for French rock music, and I suspect I always will. Over the years it’s been disparaged and laughed at, and almost always downgraded to a paltry sort of pop at best, and at worst, a Gallic rock fiasco. 'French you say... PAA!'; just about sums up the reaction of many people, both in the know and out of it. In this regard, I’m emphatically not guilty. Without ever manning the barricades in its defense, I’ve quietly enjoyed some wonderful moments listening to groups like Diabologum and Chelsea (no, not the UK punk legends, a delightful indie pop band who made two gorgeous albums in the ‘90s). From Jacques Dutronc to Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Autour De Lucie to Francoise Hardy, I’ve taken heed of the better strains of rock and pop that have come whispering across the Channel. In addition to that fine tradition we now have Maison Neuve to reckon with, and I doubt I’ll be alone in taking notice anymore.
Here is a band that has majestic melodies, glistening guitar lines, infectious rhythms, and they know how to produce and develop a tune. They also know how to write and sing very good lyrics in English and in French ("Au Large De La Ville" is a cracking rock song – whether you understand it or not), and how to make an album of variety and breadth. Yep, this French band know their business.
Fortunately there seems to be a little more interest in French rock music of late. A retrospective look at Serge Gainsbourg appeared to have started the ball rolling, and now we have Francois And The Atlas Mountains all over the radio, a band for whom big things are predicted. The same goes for another band, M83, who I first saw supporting Secret Machines in 2005. Their new material, like Francois and co., is getting a lot of airplay. Neither band I’d rate as essential, but all the same, the exposure is welcome, both for them and French music in general. Especially if the interest now starts to spread a little further from the mainstream, and reveals to all this rather sensational band... Maison Neuve. Find them if you can; their music deserves to be heard, period.