Those Parisians are getting just a bit too good at this dance music lark. The list of successful French funksters seems to grow by the day, and after a couple of strong singles we now have a full length Aloud record to enjoy.
I’m still struggling to find the connection between them and The Darkness though, despite their tendency to employ a bit of rock around the edges. That said main vocalist Cyril Bodin has obviously been to a few rock gigs in his time, and from the package on offer the prospect of seeing his band live is a good one.
Bodin sings with a remarkably rich timbre, even reminding me of Faith No More singer Mike Patton at times, and with his songwriting partner Gregory Louis seems to know how to spin a good yarn. They write with plenty of verve and a few knowing looks in the direction of 80s music, with bits of Stevie Wonder and even Dave Stewart thrown in to the mix.
Some of the songs are deep and meaningful, perhaps even too serious when Bodin’s tendency to over-emote comes into play, but slower numbers like Face No More (a tribute?!) are genuinely affecting. Musique is also a slow burner, the sparse accompaniment stripped down to very simple drum beat and keyboard, as Bodin sings of “lonely times, living such lonely nights”.
More upbeat, and arguably more effective, are the times when Aloud drop into a Daft Punk vein of funk. Lost Angeles has some clever vocals that switch polarity in a way reminiscent of Yello, whilst Sex & Sun Part II could easily get on to a chill-out compilation.
The single Bob O’Lean still sounds mighty fine, an assured slice of disco-funk with a nicely pointed vocal. Apparently Bob O’Lean is an enigmatic character who, according to Aloud, “had sex, sun, everything – but then he starts to realise that something crucial is missing”. Sex & Sun and Nevermind are both excellent pop songs, the former in possession of a memorable hook, while disco adds a healthy beat to Rocky XIII.
It’s all irrefutably French, with the harmonies, beats and subtle humour all traits that have found their way into the very best Gallic dance music. Where Aloud have an extra appeal is their flexibility in moving between instrumental and vocal tracks, Bodin proving to be a real asset. They deserve at least a share of the recent success enjoyed by their compatriots Air and Daft Punk.