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Nouvelle Vague 3 Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

They take their classy covers credo in new and nimbly delightful directions.

Michael Quinn 2009

A third offering from cover artists supreme, Nouvelle Vague, shifts away from Brazilian bossa nova and towards America's musical hinterlands to take its classy covers credo in new and nimbly delightful directions.

The formula – conjured up by producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux – remains the same as before: musical sophistication and French savoir faire re-fashions punk and New Wave standards into lush, laid back, lounge-accented creations that are so far removed from the original conception that they succeed through sheer cheek and quite a lot of chic.

Besides the elegant lurch towards country and bluegrass, NV3 for the first time features original artists – accompanied by a nine-strong line-up of idiomatically secure female vocalists drawn from the four corners of the musical world – covering their own songs.

It's a lovely conceit, and one that deliciously succeeds in Terry Hall's gently sashaying duet with Me'lanie Pain of Our Lips Are Sealed (which he wrote for the Go-Gos); Ian McCulloch's dreamily nuanced All My Colours – again with the immaculate Ms Pain; and a strident take on Depeche Mode's Master & Servant with Martin Gore. Magazine's Parade gets a menacing makeover complete with vocals from Barry Adamson.

There's also a divertingly brushed-satin sheen cover of God Save The Queen (sans Johnny Rotten), a broodingly measured take on The Police's barnstorming So Lonely, a cheeky account of Plastic Bertrand's Ca Plane Pour Moi – one that perfectly combines Beach Boys harmonies with a ska-drenched rhythm section – and Soft Cell's Say Hello, Wave Goodbye as a more-than-convincing torch song.

Treatments of songs by Gary Numan, The Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads and a sublimely hip re-working of Violent Femmes' Blister In The Sun – worth the price of the album alone – complete the package.

On paper, Nouvelle Vague shouldn't work. In practise it's a sublimely inventive concoction of clashing but surprisingly complementary moods and styles. Happily, NV3 shows little sign of Collin and Libaux running out of ideas or outstaying their welcome.

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