There’ve been better years in French music, but we’ve seen worse. So: Loads of retro, a bit of tongue play, an actress you probably never heard about (I hadn’t), one of Steve’s faves, a Biarritz gang in love with Germany’s capital, and of course a few little French songs.
11. Actually, Vanessa’s Love Songs were a bit of a letdown, especially the Biolay chansons. The most fun is the Glam-inspired Mi Amor, written by BB Brunes’ Adrien Gallo.
Vanessa Paradis – Mi Amor
10. La Masheillaise 1 & 2. If you’re into Gallic pop bâtard, this is the thing for you. Two mash-up compilations featuring few flakes, part playful nonsense, part premier cool. Free download here and there, FS favorite being:
Chocomang – Quel Modèle Veux-Tu
09. The Limiñanas, Costa Blanca. Pictured. More of the same, but still an intriguing blend of hypno guitar minimalism, tongue-in-cheek morbidezza and cinemascope retromania, think Mazzy Star with Edie Sedgwick on vocals, lysergic style.
Limiñanas – Votre Coté Yéyé M’emmerde
08. Jeanne Balibar, Slalom Dance. An album from 2006 I discovered only this year, definitely not the kind of stuff you’d expect of a singing actress, gritty, eccentric, touching, think Gréco produced by Alain Bashung. Balibar also did a fine version of La putain for the compilation project Autour de Reggiani in 2002.
Jeanne Balibar – Sex & Vegetables
Jeanne Balibar – La Putain
07. Hotel Morphée, Des Histoires des Fantômes. A bit too folky for my tastes, but Laurence Nerbonne is a spellbinding – and peculiarly sexy – raconteuse amidst the overcast aura of this gloomy Canadian sunday. Music to listen to with the shades drawn.
Hotel Morphée – La Bête et la Mitraille
06. Malcolm McLaren, Paris. Almost twenty years old, this one was the most-played record on my turntables this year. For some reason, I never had heard of it, and therefore it qualifies as brand new, as witty, literate, upper-class British and intertextual as it gets. Blame it on my awful tastes.
Malcolm McLaren – Miles and Miles of Miles Davis
05. Charles Trenet. Of course, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Trenet in 2013, the national idol who wrote La Mer on a train ride in twenty minutes, writer of almost a thousand chansons, surrealist, poet, entertainer, genius. Here’s his take on immortality again.
Charles Trenet – L’âme des Poètes
04. Helena Noguerra, Année Zero. An uneven one with a two or three bummers, but breathing a hidden, clandestine charm, also featuring one of the most beautiful chansons for some years to come: Appelle moi, written in collaboration with her ex-husband Katerine, a heartbreaker of a song about yesterday, today, and forever.
Helena Noguerra – Ceux Que J’ai Embrassés
Helena Noguerra – Appelle Moi
03. Carla Bruni, Little French Songs. Bruni’s best album, a ravissante roundup of perfect earworms, the ultimate love song for the really big guns (Mon Raymond), a gorgeous shit-eating grin, and a superb Italian version of Charles Trenet’s Douce France.
Carla Bruni – Dolce Francia
Charles Trenet – Douce France
02. Alka, La Première Fois. Maybe someday somebody will find an explanation why this one went down the drain. Oscillating between libido opera, Jane B. breathlessness, highly infectious funk and holy intimacy, La Première Fois is chock-full of vibrant grooves and feels like a long wet kiss on the mouth.
Alka – Pas la Peine Te Dire Adieu
01. La Femme, Psycho Tropical Berlin. Despite the tacky cover and daft title, this is it. The most catchy album of 2013, shamelessly retro, openly aggressive, super girlish, the ideal instrument to club oneself to death. That baise-moi beat rips your shirt off and goes right for … well, you tell me.
La Femme – Amour dans le Motu