Nouvelle Vague – Great or Gimmick?

Now here’s a tricky way to get your girlfriend to listen to your favourite punk, post-punk and new wave classics, buy this album: Nouvelle Vague’s self titled debut. The moment I heard this on National Radio I had to have it! My favourite new wave songs covered by a bossa nova band complete with chanteuse – while a bizzare concept it just sounded great. The odd juxtaposition pours new life into these classics and means that I can play them (and rave about them) to my girlfriend without her complaining that it sounds like noise or is just depressing. Undoubtedly what really makes this album is the fantastic song selection: Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, The Clash’s Guns of Brixton, The Undertone’s Teenage Kicks amongst others. It could run the risk of sounding gimmicky, but it doesn’t – instead what it does is bring out the strengths of the songwriting in these cases, something that can sometimes be hidden in the “noise” or doom and gloom atmosphere. In some cases the different context can really bring something else to the song. In the case of the Dead Kennedys’ Too Drunk to Fuck (probably the surprise standout of the album) the flirty voice of the singer completely changes the meaning of such lines as “I drank 16 beers and started up a fight” – and The Clash have never sounded so good!

I’m still enjoying it after a weekend of solid listening and after I tire of it, my girlfriend will still like it. I’m looking forward to listening to the second album.

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~ by Doug Newdick on September 25, 2006.

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