When it comes to music, I have to admit that I am a creature of habit. It takes a lot of persuasion to get me to come out of my shell and readily accept a new artist, new sound, new genre, etc.. I favor to stick with the tried and tested. It’s less work for me in the long run and I like what I listen to – I’m a grumpy old man like that. But when I encounter a new artist, whose music I love enough to purchase in its entirety on iTunes and maybe a t-shirt from their website, I feel like there is something to be said for that. That was the case with the French electro-pop band, Yelle. Love at first sight. To me, Yelle can be best described as Devo en Françias, or Edith Piaf meets Katy Perry. Hard beats and bright colors, possibly my favorite combination ever. C’est magnifique!
Yelle rose to stardom in 2005 when their hit “Je veux te voir” became a sensation on Myspace (Omg. Myspace fame… those were the days). The hard hitting beats of “Je veux te voir” are completely catchy. However, the true brilliance behind this song, besides the quaint 2005-Myspace-Hummer-centric nostalgia of the music video, exists within the lyrics – Yelle is basically shaming the French rapper, Cuizinier. Yelle’s lead singer, Julie Budet, flat out mocks his sexual prowess and équipement (she basically equates his manhood with a french fry). While we could spend hours discussing how this song poses some serious questions of intent, sexuality, second wave feminism, and the gender binary, let’s at least all agree: a song like “Je veux te voir” is a pretty risky and daring global first impression for a band to make. Being a bit of a rebel and muckraker myself, I’m happy Yelle’s risk paid off.
Okay, now that we have to an extent contextualized the history and sound of Yelle, let’s move on to their new album, Complètement Fou (‘completely crazy’ en Anglais). It appears Yelle is less reliant on those harder hitting beats and has adapted more rhythm and melody in their sound. While their music still is conducive of wanting to shake your butt and fists on the dance floor, the visual aspect of their work has truly come into its own. Hot Chip meets haute couture.
The title track by far enhances the band’s visual presence and musical aesthetic. It can be summarized as pleasure that takes itself seriously: the use of blue popcorn and a gigantic statue of an ear of corn, juxtaposed against high fashion more sombre lyrics such as “Je suis arrivée au sommet / Tu n’as rien vu pendant ton sommeil.”
Straying away from the more melancholic affect of “Complètement Fou,” the song “Ba$$in” revives those dance beats. This song is completely infectious – in a good way. Where ever you find me with my headphones in, be it walking around campus, doing homework, or even doing the dishes, chances are I’m making the ronds avec mon bassin.
Their latest video is pure cheeky fun, which is obviously what Yelle does best. They also demonstrate possibly the best use of a selfie-stick and googly-eyes I have ever seen. Warning: this video is arguably NSFW.
In closing, for those of you who like the cheeky, the colorful, the beatific, the synth heavy, and every sense of the expression joie de vivre: Yelle is for you.
Complètement Fou is available on iTunes and Amazon:
– Nate Blanchard