Les Rita Mitsouko
2007: Because 3123182 WAG825
New to my collection as of late April 2007, and I gather it was just released. Merci, la FNAC ! I saw a customer-level review after Id received my copy that said (essentially, in translation) that this was yet again nothing new from Les Rita Mitsouko I can only surmise that the person in question had already decided what theyd say about the CD before it was released, and that they never did bother to play it.
There are familiar sounds here, and unfamiliar ones as well. What really did surprise me was that I heard some new incarnations of LRMs older soundnot a rehash, nor new versions of old songs, but slightly awkward melodies and arrangements along the lines of their No Comprendo days at least. But new! And infused with the calm strength of their years of experience in songwriting and in creating/discovering what Les Rita Mitsouko was/is. The result is mostly engaging and almost too easy on the ear.
There are two new sounds in play here: Catherine Ringers playing harmonica throughout (and shes no Stevie Wonder, for sure), and her adult daughter Ginger Ringer provides secondary vocals on many of the songs. (Not bad. A very clean voice.) The presence of three and a half songs in English is another throwback of sorts, yet its also the heralding of a new strategic approach by the duo: they want to slough off the restraining skin of being simply French and tour more engagingly in other countriesEuropean ones, to start, for sure, but also farther afield. That they recorded a Mandarin Chinese version of the scary-enough track Berceuse is an indication of this, apparently but cmon, would they really want to perform THAT song for a concert audience? It scared the shit out of me on first headphones-listening, even in my second language, and I cant imagine it getting thunderous applause from the baffled and scarred audience regardless of the language.
The albums justly named, as theres a nice variety of musical work here, and that includes the quality and richness of the lyrics. Lami ennemi, which kicks things off, presents a haphazard encounter with the singers old enemy on a side-street at the foot of Montmartre; the song is pungent with ambiguity and ambivalence, with the present opinion of the old enemy never quite established amid the dangerous mental dancing (friend of my nights and fogs, she nods in each chorus).
I need more time to play-and-replay the album and discern its lyrical-content aspects, as Im not a native French speaker (and I know that Berceuse and Rendez-vous avec moi-même will require most of my attention in that sense). Of the three-and-a-half tracks recorded here in English (four-and-a-half, if you count the deluxe releases Hearts in Love version of Communiqueur damour), Shes a Cameleon is probably the most readily accessible and enjoyable, whereas Terminal Beauty is better in theory (a lament regarding anorexically distorted girl models in magazines, although it can read somewhat as regarding starving Ethiopian children) than in reality, as Serj Tankians voice grates on my ears with unexpected intensity. Ringer seems to have attained a better English pronunciation over the years, anyway; only the track Bad Luck Queen (about Marie Antoinette) betrays the accent significantly (Ringer and/or her daughter sing archduchess as the proper French archiduchesse, for example).
Ma vieille ville made me cry ( but then Im jealous and Paris wont let me in to stay); its sentiment without the syrup. As for Ding ding dong, of which the chorus is in English, Im not sure what to say except that its catchy and that it features a tasty sax solo by Simon ClarkeI mean TASTY! Just right, just hot enough for what it is.
Overall: a worthy addition to the Les Rita Mitsouko catalogue, although it doesnt establish any new voice or direction on their part. Its a pleasure to listen to.
Comments © 2007 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.