While English remains undoubtedly the dominant language of pop music as a whole, one exception is the chanson tradition – lyric-driven songs which make a virtue of the unique cadences of the French language, popularised in the 20th century especially by Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.
The chanson genre is explored on the debut album by Cours Lapin, a collective of film composers from Denmark comprising Jonas Struck on guitar, Asger Baden and Peder on keyboards and chanteuse Louise Alenius. The band members’ soundtrack credentials are writ large across the album’s 11 songs – this is indeed a cinematic-sounding album, albeit one that isn’t attached to a particular film. Nonetheless, listening to the dark, noir-ish music of Cours Lapin, one can’t help but form filmic scenes in one’s head, primarily sequences set in smoke-filled Parisian clubs circa 1965.
Cache Cache has already been pimped out on the internet as a taster for the album, and it’s clear why: with its sashaying rhythm and rousing chorus, it’s easily the album’s poppiest moment; if their name weren’t synonymous with coffee table mediocrity, one could compare it confidently to Morcheeba. Elsewhere, the clattering percussion, menacing double bass and Mark Ribot-esque twanging guitar of the title track could have been lifted off Tom Waits‘ Swordfishtrombones, while the squalling, bombastic finale of Les Son D’Un Escargot adds some much-needed drama. Other songs recall Felt Mountain-era Goldfrapp.
Cours Lapin (which translates literally as ‘rabbit’s path’) is expertly performed and meticulously arranged. It also rather falls between two stools: without a specific film to soundtrack, the songs feel too ersatz to appeal to committed fans of the chanson, and insufficiently catchy to appeal to regular pop fans. Pleasant, but inessential.