Like Kraftwerk waxing The Beach Boys' surfboards...
La Femme - Psycho Tropical Berlin

To fully appreciate La Femme’s singular approach to pop, just take a listen to ‘Antitaxi’, the opening track on this debut album. Here you'll find boy/girl vocals with all the wild, raw spontaneity of punk (‘Psycho’), a completely unanticipated detour into surf-pop guitar riffery (‘Tropical’), all underpinned by sinewy throbbing sequencers and thudding beats reminiscent of DAF (‘Berlin’).

‘Psycho Tropical Berlin’ – entirely aptly titled, then – has a number of such moments where these seemingly incompatible elements collide improbably together, the effervescent ‘Sur La Planche’ (video below) being the highlight. But you might also find yourself hearing filmic numbers with an essence of the ‘60s European movies that seemed très exotique to New Wave bands with French dictionaries and hairspray 30 years ago. That, or jerky rock ‘n’ roll that sounds like the Ramones playing through a broken Moog; or Theremin-augmented fairground music that comes with mystique and spookiness in equal measure.

There is always a danger with such hybrid albums that they sound monumentally kitsch at best, or a sprawling mess at worst. Somehow this Biarritz-based unit has managed to bypass both with élan, producing an album that sounds as polished as Kraftwerk robotically waxing The Beach Boys’ surfboards.


Words: Mat Smith

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