Well, this is all a bit of fun, isn’t it? Jarvis Cocker‘s playful, silly new album Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top has come about because playful, silly movie director Wes Anderson asked Jarv to “record a new version of Aline for his new film The French Dispatch“. What we’ve ended up with (happily) is an entire album of “French material from the same period, songs originally made notable by the likes of Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc and others”.
How this hasn’t happened before now is something only a MENSA bod would be able to work out, because not only do Anderson and Jarv seem like an ideal pairing, but there’s something to be said for Jarv’s Gainsbourg-influenced reptile lounge mode that he just does so bloody well, and there should have been a full album of it by now. Iggy Pop beat him to it by almost a decade.
Opener Dans Ma Chambre (original by Dalida) sticks close to the original’s gothic melodrama, but really ramps up the intensity when it comes to the vocals and the Bach organ quote. The version of Brigitte Bardot‘s Contact, written by Gainsbourg, is also fairly faithful to the original, with only Jarv’s plummy tones the cigarette paper between them.
Bourvil‘s La Tendresse is one of the only skip-ables on the album – owing mainly to the fact that the original isn’t very good either. Je Te Cherche, a Françoise Hardy tune, reverses the course and actually becomes one of the highlights of the set (and a great reminder of how funny this concept album is).
Other highlights – for there are many – are the riotous Les Fens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous, the Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) feature on Paroles, Paroles, and the psychedelic silliness of Mao Mao. Gainsbourg’s Requiem Pour Un Con stands head and shoulders above them, however, because it’s simply the best selection on here. The song fits Jarv’s voice, and the overall ethos and artistic drive of his career to date. Requiem Pour Un Con wouldn’t have been out of place on any Pulp album, or any of his solo records. It’s a wonderful thing to hear.
The whole album is a treat, and a fun way to pass a half hour or so. Hopefully the movie it’s attached to is just as fun, just as playful, and just as silly. Wonderful stuff – purchase with confidence.