Impelling Drums, ethereal surf music vocals, synthetic circus sounds and surreal lyrics. The combination of all that is what makes the multi-piece cold-wave, punk-rock, yé-yé band ‘La Femme’ so special. ‘La Femme’ already carries half the concept of this blog in its name and easily delivers the other half in its music, with an astonishing quality considering the diversity of influences recognizable that go way beyond and most of the time are not even primarily electro sounds. It can be described as, but is so much more than ‘Kraftwerk meets Beach Boys’.
The mixed-gender band consists of a meandering amount of members, with Clémence Quélennec being the lead sinder around which most of their pieces revolve. Created was the band by the two ‘masterminds behind La Femme’ Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée, who also do most of the writing, in Biaritz, France.
They started off with their first EP in 2010, produced two follow ups to that, and focused all their subsequent efforts on 2013’s ‘Psycho Tropical Berlin’ (for a good interpretation of that title read the brilliant quietus review), which was released to critical acclaim and was as often interpreted as a fusion of all the styles their capable of, being hold together by an ‘uncertain existential angst’ and enjoyment of the dark and surreal that is soaking through every song in the album.
Another thread that can be followed through the whole album is their occupation with the feminine, the woman, ‘La Femme’. First of all embodied by a diverse cast of female singers that each take a leading role in the different songs. Second of all, by the lyrics, that are sometimes just uninterpretable sequences of words, but more often than not have something to say about life and what it’s like and what it means to be a woman and what gender is supposed to be after all. Just like this extract from ‘Si, un jour‘ where a girl that was brought up to be ‘girly’ and dismiss all her masculine traits, only to embrace them the more later, talking about it in terms of self-liberation.
“Mon père me dit en remets donc ton jupon
Ne touche pas à ce ballon ça c’est pour les garçons
Cesse de gémir tu as des occupations
Des fils et des aiguilles des perles et des boutons […]
Mais moi j’aimerais vraiment pouvoir abandonner mon Moulinex
Pour savoir cracher
Fumer toute la journée
Marcher tout en sifflant
Porter des pantalons”
But in the end, the political messages about gender and identity don’t feel too heavy in ‘Psycho Tropical Berlin’, although they are there to be discovered, without a doubt. It is probably best said in the words of the album review by bpm, ‘It’s not that their music can’t make you think; they’d just rather make you dance.‘
Genre: New-Wave / Surf
Songs to listen to:
‘La Femme Ressort’ which is a pulsing electro tune, that will suck you in La Femme’s magical kingdom in no time.
The best represenation of all that which makes ‘La Femme’ so unique is found in their 8-minute tour de force video for ‘Amour dans le motu’ and ‘Witchcraft’
More about Le Femme:
Image Credits: Alessio Boni and Interview Magazine