Cool Frénésie

Les Rita Mitsouko

2000: Delabel 7243 8487562 6

  1. Cool Frénésie
  2. Femme de Moyen Âge
  3. Toi & Moi & Elle
  4. La Sorcière et l’Inquisiteur
  5. Dis-Moi des Mots
  6. Allo !
  7. Gripshitrider in Paris
  8. C’était un Homme
  9. Les Guerriers
  10. Fatigué d’Être Fatigué
  11. Pense à Ta Carrièree
  12. Un Zéro
  13. Alors C’est Quoi
  14. Jam

Every time I play this album I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it, yet somehow I tend to forget that effect and impression between listenings. It’s richly packed with strong, fine LRM aspects in beefily dense helpings and a generally saturated and cinematic soundscape. Which is more of that, the ridiculously melodramatic and yet magnificent “La Sorcière et l’Inquisiteur” or “Les Guerriers” with its superb evocation of a nation rallying for war? Ah, but wait—there’s “Pense à Ta Carrièree,” which is absolutely arresting, presenting a very precise modern scene which shifts from the speaker to the listener at the end in a breathtakingly gratifying change of cameras…. And that “OK, OK…OK!” is just brilliant.

“Gripshitrider in Paris”—well, that’s just the most amusing part of the album (unless “La Sorcière et l’Inquisiteur” makes you laugh, as it well might do). When I first heard it I was amused but a bit baffled, as I wasn’t aware of what was being described; my French tutor Nelly Lelaquet, who brought a copy of this CD back from Paris for me when it came out, enlightened me on this subject, explaining that it was referring to the guys who drive little dogshit-vacuuming vehicles around Paris’s streets. (I’m more familiar with the sight of the vivid-green-uniformed street-sweeping guys; the others may be a newer development of civic housekeeping that I’ve not encountered yet.) Regardless of familiarity, I’ve found the visuals described to be hilariously recognizable: the tourist strolling at the foot of Montmartre, busy looking up at the Sacre-Cœur, steps in some dogshit and reacts indignantly—but here it’s all delivered in a dreamily smooth song which whimsically mixes the street-level realities with impressions of the Hausmannian architecture and Paris in general.

“Un Zéro” is pretty silly as well, lyrically, but it sounds more serious and earnest. I *adore* “Femme de Moyen Âge”—it’s so easy to sing along with, and its wordplay involving middle age and swimming (among other aspects) is oh-so-tantalizingly amusing. The title track’s awfully catchy as well, and I’ve found myself singing bits of it while biking (especially the whispered “adieu, pays adorée” section); although I don’t particularly get into the lovers’ triangle scene of “Toi & Moi & Elle,” that same sort of catchiness (both lyrically and musically) keeps me from ever skipping it when I play the CD. “Dis-Moi des Mots” and “C’était un Homme,” however, often do get passed over: the former because it’s a little tedious, the latter because it’s too profound and depressing for casual listening.

Finally, just to be thorough, “Allo!” and its alternate version, “Alors C’est Quoi” just haven’t quite captivated me—they’re not bad, I even catch myself singing bits of them now and then, but they don’t seem to have any particular identity or story, and “Jam” is just a vague extra track which probably would have been more appropriate as a “bonus track” on a single. “Fatigué d’Être Fatigué” drags on a bit but at least it’s interesting if not fascinating; surrounded by so many stronger and more intense tracks, however, it really can’t compete.