Les Breastfeeders Le Matins de Grands Soirs

[Blow the Fuse; 2007]

Styles: garage rock, punk, rock
Others: The Von Bondies, The Go, The Paybacks

It would be incredibly disingenuous of me, and somewhat patronizing, to linger too much on Les Breastfeeders' achievement of making Francophone rock sound more snarling and propulsive than it ever has before, but I can't resist at least saying it. Now that it's out of the way, let's put the focus where it should be: on the energetic and complex racket that these ragged rockers kick up.

There's a definite affinity for the garage-rock revivalists, but Les Breastfeeders reach back a little further to rock's roots. Yet "retro" is a tag that sticks easily, not monolithically. In fact, there are a lot of touchstones one could find for Les Breastfeeders, but any specific one is going to just simplify the equation far too much. The vocal duties are split between Luc Brien and Suzie McLelove, and the contrast in their styles couldn't be more effective. Where Brien's caustic rasp defines the rough rock numbers like "Viens avec moi," "Tout va pour le mieux dans le pire des mondes," and "Qui a deux femmes," McLelove serves as the softer, smoother counterpart that assumes the more tuneful tendencies.

Far from just an accenting element, McLelove takes lead on a number of tracks, most memorably on "Funny Funiculaire" and "Pas sans saveur." These tracks still rock, but more in the vein of the aggressive moments in Stereolab's repertoire. The music is exciting and kinetic, but the beautiful texture of the vocals gives the whole package an almost aerodynamic quality. The fact that Les Breastfeeders can be both abrasive and soothing (sometimes within the same song) makes their take on old sounds a worthwhile exercise. One can only hope that they will continue to distinguish themselves even further from their influences with future releases.

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