The importance of getting your song on an American TV show has grown immeasurably following the death of music shows on the box. Synchronising your sound with the right visual image has helped bands such as Snow Patrol and Keane break the American market, with their emotional, lightweight songs the perfect soundtrack to someone in pain in a hospital bed or struggling with a midlife crisis.
Series directed at teenagers such as The Hills, The OC, 90210 and Gossip Girl all use music to give quick clues as to their beautiful characters’ emotions; a blast of The Virgins here, a smattering of The Kills there. To that list can be added the all-female French foursome Plastiscines, whose bare-bones rock has appeared in at least one episode of Gossip Girl.
It’s not surprising their output has been chosen to fill 30-second gaps in dialogue. Each of the 12 songs on their second album, About Love, feature sky-scraping choruses that are ushered in by sudden key changes, sign-posted from a mile off. It helps too that the band themselves look like they could be characters in any one of those teen dramas, each girl sporting short denim hot pants, over-sized sunglasses and the requisite dirty looking hair. It’s as if they’ve walked out of the pages of a fashion shoot in NYLON magazine… whose label they happen to be signed to.
The band’s final line-up was cemented after meeting at a Libertines gig. This makes sense; certain tracks on About Love share a similarly ramshackle feel. Tracks like Barcelona and Bitch also share a love of the catchy chorus, the former featuring some brilliant vocal interplay and the latter a rumbling baseline and some perfectly placed handclaps. Elsewhere, elements of Blondie‘s icy cool and The Strokes‘ nonchalance make appearances, but the jumble of influences soon smother the songs; they’re generally too lightweight to stand on their own.
It’s also difficult to distinguish between them after a while. Each track trundles along nicely and for sure they know their way around a tune. It’s just that it feels a bit laboured at times. When they do slow things down on I Am Down Tonight, it’s not just the title that’s irritatingly prosaic.
When they sing in their native tongue such as on Camera and Pas Avec Toi the songs sound less affected and their perfectly studied idea of cool is elevated a level with consummate ease. It also helps if one can’t understand the lyrics, which in English at least are clich�d throughout.
About Love isn’t a disaster by any means. It’s just hard to shake the feeling you’ve heard it all before, and not just because it’s been on TV.