Rhythm & Views

Coralie Clément

Is it just me, or is French rock making a comeback of sorts, what with chanteuse Coralie Clément squarely positioning herself among other forward-thinking, frog-eating acts like M83? Music writers will likely dismiss Clément's latest effort, Bye Bye Beauté, as simple, unambitious pop-rock, and at first listen, the tag sticks--until you sift through your CDs and MP3s and iTunes and realize that, hey, nobody else actually sounds at all like this.

"Indécise" kicks things off with Merseybeat drums and a popping bass guitar, Clément's hushed, baby-girl voice hot in your ear, urging you to join her for a drink in the darkened corner of this cozy Parisian go-go bar she's arranged for you. And when the mariachi trumpets and chiming guitar unveil the song's chorus, you'll be ready to spend the whole night listening to her lullabies. "L'Enfer" brings to mind Bettie Seveert and Juliana Hatfield with its straight-ahead rock drumming, melodic guitar and hooks up the ying-yang. The jaunty "Avec Ou Sans Moi" is almost childlike in its appeal, stomping gingerly through its chord changes like a Sunday-afternoon cakewalk involving the quirky-cute cast of Ghost World.

The standout tracks on Bye Bye Beauté, though, are the ones powered by simple acoustic guitar. "Kids (Jeu du Fou Foulard)" makes the descriptive clause "toe-tapping pop" something worth holding close to your heart. If you're not humming along by the second verse, well, then you don't really have an appreciation for music. And "Epilogue," with its relentless build-up, will take you as near as Clément's bedroom and as far away as the planet Saturn and its beautiful rings of light.

Cosmic chamber-pop sung by a French torch singer? Oui.

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