French covers band for lovers of beige Nouvelle Vague are back with another album titled I Could Be Happy. Featuring covers of the Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated, No One Is Receiving by Brian Eno and All Cats Are Grey by The Cure, it’s a great album for those that love listening to background music. CD and vinyl from Kwaidan Records.
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We work in one of the coldest places on planet earth…a concrete ice encrusted bunker where no sun has ever shone. To counteract this we’ve been playing summery sunshine music in order to somehow try to make the place warm up by the power of sound.
We could do worse than the latest from Nouvelle Vague. Well we know what they do don’t we? They’ve made a career out of remaking hits from the punk and post punk era into beach-ready bossa nova styles - sometimes as in their take on ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ they do it rather successfully. Here they re-work tracks from Cocteau Twins, the Ramones, the Cure, Altered Images and more. Part of the fun is working out how they’ve approached each track and like the remainder of their albums it veers between successful re-interpretations and novelty winks and nods. The opening take on Cocteau Twins ‘Athol-Brose’ suffers as Liz Frazer’s babble lyrics don’t really easily transfer to easy listening arrangements. The Ramones ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ is done in a kind of “Santa Baby” style and is kind of annoying. Much better is the take on Altered Images ‘I Could Be Happy’ which is a slinking Astrud Gilberto style piece of sultry Brazilian beach beauty. It’s pretty nice….most songs have the sound of the sea/people having fun tacked on which makes for an interesting juxtaposition on the Cure’s bleak ‘All Cats Are Grey’ no amount of sun and fun sound effects is going to cheer up this lyric.
The better tracks though are the original compositions and collaborations that take up the latter half of the record ‘Maladroit’ in particular shows a subtlety lost elsewhere. Indeed an album of Nouvelle Vague original compositions might not be as marketable as the well known covers but the album is more enjoyable when it’s trying less hard.
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- I Could Be Happy by Nouvelle Vague
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