Feu Thérèse: Ça Va Cogner

‘Fun' isn't the first word that springs to mind when ‘Constellation' is mentioned but it surely is one of the major impressions engendered by Feu Therese's Ça Va Cogner (‘It's Gonna Hit'). Having risen phoenix-like from Fly Pan Am's ashes in 2005 when the group's guitarist Jonathan Parant joined forces with Stephen de Oliveira (synths, voice), Alex St-Onge (bass, electronics), and, later, Luc Paradis (drums), Feu Therese now follows its 2006 self-titled debut with an admirably svelte 37-minute sequel. The band appears to predicate its sound upon deliberate stylistic collisions resulting in odd juxtapositions, with Parant's scalding guitar lines often bleeding through the songs' cracks and crevices.

In one of the album's best songs, “À nos amours,” the combination of African juju guitar, velvety vocals, and keyboard flourishes that would sound right at home at the midway or hockey rink makes for a jubilant, whirligig opener. Equally eyebrow-raising, “Visage sous nylon” layers strangulated guitar skronk and stop-start chants over a cycling pattern lifted from Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder's “I Feel Love” while the nightmarish “Le bruit du pollen la nuit” pairs Goldfrapp glam-boogie with a cool, spoken-voiced drawl (all lyrics in French, incidentally). In addition, there's high-spirited pop (“Nada,” “Les enfants”) and a breezy romp that morphs halfway through into an Afro-funk throwdown (“Ferrari en feu (pt. 2)”). Following a paradisiacal synth-heavy prelude, the title song alternates dancing keyboard melodies with the child-like singing of The Brightening Star Choir. The synth swells are so over-the-top in tunes like “Laisse briller tes yeux dans le soleil,” it's hard not to hear the material as tongue-in-cheek; concomitantly, it's also hard not to succumb to the songs' cheery melodies, regardless of however ironic the band is attempting to be. As St-Onge astutely notes, Ça Va Cogner's songs are “like the siren's cry, an invitation to a voyage.” A strange trip for sure, yet one that offers unexpected pleasures too.

November 2007