Au Revoir Simone are a 'girl group' with a difference.
Jon Lusk 2009
Au Revoir Simone are a 'girl group' with a difference. This Brooklyn-based trio all sing and accompany themselves on a wide variety of synths. They've described their disarmingly minimalist music quite accurately as 'dreamy electronic lo-fi keyboard pop'. Having ditched the bells and whistles featured on their second album The Bird Of Music, this third effort focuses entirely on their keyboard drones, clunky-but-appealing casiotone rhythm tracks and curiously blank, though oddly appealing voices.
It's the kind of music Laura Veirs might have made without access to guitars or the stimulus of the great outdoors; Lykke Li on a very calm day, or Young Marble Giants' Alison Statton if she wanted to sing in tune. Although you can comfortably lie in the bath to it, there's a slightly unsettling tension between the faux-naïve arrangements and the occasional helpings of female emotional literacy.
The latter is most apparent in Only You Can Make You Happy, which starts out as what seems like an instrumental and then makes a blindingly simple mantra
out of the title, decorated with a vocal sample that instantly recalls Laurie Anderson's electronic pop masterpiece O Superman. Then there's Take Me As I Am, which gets more articulate (''We’ve talked a million hours to end up just where we began'') and the comparatively frantic Anywhere You Looked. It's the closest they get to dancefloor action – if you can stop laughing at the comically tinny beats.
There's certainly some material here that's as slight as it initially seems, such as Organized Scenery or We Are Here. Happily, though, that's not true of most of it. With pop melodies as winning as Shadows and the manically noodling Knight Of Wands, you may soon find yourself quietly humming along. Oh, and by the way, their strange and ever-so-slightly pretentious name apparently comes from a line in the cult movie Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure.