an album that, by rights, shouldn't have worked, but does.
Michael Quinn 2008
The chic French collective Nouvelle Vague announced itself to the world just four years ago in singular fashion, boldly re-minting New Wave classics in bossa nova arrangements that turned the dour, disaffected post-Punk ethic on its strutting, hard-done-by head.
Last year's Late Night Tales ventured further a field, taking well-tempered forays into jazz, contemporary classical and country-and-western to similarly bizarre but no less bewitching effect. And now co-founder Marc Collin has taken the revisionist thrust into an even stranger arena as he sets out to change the way we feel about 1980's film soundtracks. No, really.
If Hollywood, Mon Amour seems a disconcertingly tongue-lodged-firmly-in-cheek title for a collection that ranges from Arthur to Footloose to Rocky III, with startling detours en route, it does a disservice to the cleverly selected, lovingly re-assembled, brightly polished examples of Hollywood theme songs contained within.
Stripped of their overblown archness and preening bombast, and re-clothed in dreamy, husky-voiced, lounge-lite arrangements, virtually all of the baker's-dozen compendium suddenly seems more appealing, delicious and digestible than you might imagine.
Lifted from the American Gigolo soundtrack, Blondie's Call Me lends itself to a gently elasticated treatment that, by turns, stretches and compresses the original into a compelling echo caught on the wind. The title track to Footloose is persuasively translated into a hymnal to American jive and Duran Duran's Bond theme, A View To A Kill, suddenly becomes a sophisticated torch song with ex-Morcheeba frontwoman Skye silky smooth and flirtatiously seductive. Most unsettling of all, however, Arthur's Best That You Can Do has its saccharine plasticity sucked out of it and replaced with a sweet, sugary sincerity that becomes irresistibly hypnotic.
Such is Collin's cachet, that Hollywood rock chic Juliette Lewis also pops up with a pared-down, paced-back This Is Not America that calls to mind a mellow Marianne Faithfull. It's just one of the many surprises (Rocky III's quietly intense The Eye Of The Tiger and a beautiful, dark-edged When Doves Cry not least) on an album that, by rights, shouldn't have worked, but does. And sublimely so.