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Import Zone | column | Lollipop
by Michael McCarthy
Faux Movement, the third album by Autour De Lucie, has been released in France. While Valérie Leulliot's vocals remain a pleasant blend of haunting and sweet, the songwriting is a bit more progressive this time around, the disc opening with two songs clocking in at over six minutes. The first, "Je Reviens," is also the first single, but it's so intoxicating that its length hasn't scared away radio or video channels. And the songwriting isn't the only thing that's grown - the production, by the band and Ian Caple, now includes lots of electronic tinkerings. (The sound is still that of alternative rock, to be sure, but there are finer details to be noticed upon subsequent listenings.) Since they are one of the few French-language artists to have had an album (or two, in their case) released in the States, one would hope that Faux Movement would see a release here, but thus far, I haven't even been able to find it in Montréal record stores. Definitely worth ordering online though.
Italy's Paola & Chiara have also released their third album, but where Autour De Lucie used electronica to enhance their previous rock sound, Paola & Chiara use electronic beats to take the place of it. Surprisingly, it's a very solid if not brilliant album. Sax, Spanish guitar and The London Session Orchestra appear in many of the tracks, helping to build layers and layers of sound that would get William Orbit excited. I suppose the first single sums it up perfectly. It's entitled "Vamos A Bailar (Esta Vida Nueva)," which basically means "let's dance - it's new life." Yes, sometimes it's nice to see an artist dive into the deep end of something new instead of treading into those shallow waters so many end up in as they strive to remake their previous albums.
Stato di necessita is the fourth album from Italy's Carmen Consoli. While it's not as rocking as her previous disc, it's certainly as moody and just oozes melancholy. Even if you don't know Italian (like me), there's no mistaking the emotion of the songs. You can feel her pain or desire without understanding the words, her voice is truly that potent.
Lee Jung Hyun II, the second album by the Korean artist, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it's probably going to cost her some of the fans earned by her amazing debut since it's a lot less techno and a lot more dance. To be fair, it's not cheese, but I'd like to see her do something a bit more obscure next time around.
A duo called Hush is getting lots of attention in Korea, though it probably has less to do with the music than with the photo of the two lovely young ladies hugging in a topless photo in the CD booklet. If you like ballads, the music should please you, but of their pop songs, only "Addicted Love" stands out, perhaps because it's set to the music of Natalie Imbruglia's "Wishing I Was There."
Alizée. Remember that name. She's only released one single and she's already a household name in France. Of course, the fact that the lyrics to that single, "Moi... Lolita," were written by Mylène Farmer has a lot to do with it. And since the music was written and produced by Mylène's longtime collaborator, Laurent Boutonnat, it's as close to a Mylène Farmer song as you're ever going to get from someone who isn't Mylène. I recommend the maxi-single with Boutonnat and Didier Lozahic's superb "Lola Extended Remix," though I do have to say the rap that appears in two of the four versions sounds extremely out of place to this listener's ears. (Check out Alizée on the Web at www.moi-alizee.com)
For the record, Alizée's single is not the first time Boutonnat has collaborated with someone other than Mylène. That would be last year's self-titled debut from Nathalie Cardone. It was highly anticipated due to Boutonnat's participation, and the three irresistible singles that preceded its release, "Hasta Siempre," "Populaire" and "...Mon Ange." While those tracks do make the album worth owning, if you don't have the singles, the other tracks are mostly disappointing. Sure, "Je Donne Donc Je Suis" would be a great fourth single, but did she really need to include a song called "Flower Power"? Or "G. Stories," a silly homage to Serge Gainsbourg? Apparently the answer to that question is no since many have already forgotten about Cardone.
Finally, a single by Kahimi Karie has surfaced in Spain. It features two tracks in Spanish and two in English. One of the English tracks, "Mike Alway's Diary," was one of the few less memorable tracks on the self-titled disc released in the States last year, but the three other tracks ("Giapponese a roma," "Por qué te vas" and "Still Be Your Girl") are better than anything on this year's K.K.K.K.K. and make it a must have.