Jordan Pedersen is no jabroni
I remember the precise moment when I rejected the suburban white male orthodoxy. I was a sophomore in high school in the suburbs of Chicago. I was in gym class, and the guy next to me commented offhand that he hated all those “The” bands: “The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives, ugh. Lame.” He was a fan of the agro-rap-rock I too had grown up on. If it didn’t wallow in angst, he couldn’t fuck with it.
Little did he know that my iPod was stuffed with “The” bands. I was particularly enamored with The Strokes, and I recall downloading the video for “Last Night“ on KaZaA (!) and watching it on repeat. The tiny leather jackets, the palpable apathy in Julian Casablancas’ voice, the cigarette Albert Hammond kept between his lips for the entirety of the song. The clowns in Linkin Park weren’t cool, these guys were.
Of course, I was part of a wider sea change in the culture. All those “The” bands eventually graduated to the main stage at Lollapalooza, just like the cool neighborhood is eventually taken over by Jamba Juices and Chipotles. Call it patterns of urban development in music.
It was a revelation, as I grew up and moved several more standard deviations away from bands on the alternative rock charts. And the music on Favorite Recordings’ fabulous new French Disco Boogie Sounds compilation is about fifteen clicks left of Three Days Grace. 14-year-old Jordan would hate it. Children are idiots.
The Gallic take on disco is sweatier and more insistent than its American cousin. Either because they didn’t want to get fussy or because they couldn’t afford it, there’s nary a string section to be found. Scrubbed of the dross, the ten songs here shine so bright you’re liable to slip on the dance floor: Opener “Music Madness” by Beckie Bell blasts out of the gate with a blistering descending tom-tom line, then sends the groove aloft with punchy horns.
Le Club’s “Un Fait Divers & Rien De Plus” opts for a loping groove and glimmering synths that wouldn’t sound out of place if they used it to soundtrack Axel telling Jenny how drug dealers use coffee grounds to hide the smell of coke in Beverly Hills Cop.
Side Note: let’s just take a minute to appreciate how unbelievable this Max Headroom to-the-power-of David Bowie video is.
The comp draws extra groove from its incorporation of France’s Caribbean and African music scenes. Marché Noir’s sizzling, flute and synth assisted “Y’a Du Blues (Tant Pis C’est La Vie)” wrings as much joy as it can from all the hyphens in “French-Afro-disco-boogie.” It also has one of the strongest hooks on the album.
But the crown jewel of the collection has to be Toulouse’s “C’est Toujours Comme Ça L’amour.” The French Canadian girl group starts things off with a sly, slinky guitar line before passing the ball to diabolically infectious wordless group vocals. Once the girls hit the high note on “comme ça!” in the second verse, you’re hopelessly addicted. Please, Favorite, reissue a full record by these ladies.
French Disco Boogie Sounds is a 12-hour dance party aided by a handful of shady pills from a guy with long hair you’ve never met before. It’s sweaty sex with somebody whose name you can’t quite recall. It is not for kids.