Compilations / Mixes
Mademoiselle Caro & Franck Garcia:
Mademoiselle Caro (DJ mainstay at Paris's Rex Club) and her Perpignan-based collaborator, Franck Garcia, return with their full-length follow-up to 2008's standout Pain Disappears. The new collection doesn't alter the formula too dramatically, though even a cursory listen reveals that the more song-oriented Left is a tad less clubby than its predecessor (one presumes the clubbier side of the pair's music will get a thorough workout on the remixes that are sure to follow—already the case with Benn Watt's dynamic overhaul of “Soldiers”). There is a dance element still present but one more subliminally felt. One other change is the greater prominence Garcia's voice assumes on the new album—or, stated differently, Caro's singing is less prominent in the mix, unfortunately. Having Garcia's singing more at the forefront (on a song like “Faith,” for instance) also means that the subtle hint of a Gainsbourg connection also becomes more noticeable.
“Opening” eases the listener in with a pretty strings-and-piano overture, after which the disco-pop tune “From The Shadow” proves to be a rather toothless opener, a decent enough but harmless bit of fluff that could have used more bite (though it's dressed up in an appealing arrangement, the song's bridge is the best thing about it). The next cut, “Everything Must Change,” would have been the better choice as the album's ‘opening' song. More uptempo and driving than “From The Shadow,” “Everything Must Change” benefits from a breezy vibe whose backbeat swing is enhanced by guitar stabs and the subtle addition of vibes accents (it also features a dramatic second half where strings and tympani drums up the epic ante). “Soldiers” showcases many of the duo's strengths in a single four-minute piece: their melodic gifts (the upwards vocal leap that comes on “time” during the chorus “The soldiers are coming / The soldiers are waiting / Now it's time / To confess my sins,” for example), and the ease with which they craft sophisticated arrangements that so seamlessly conjoin melancholy and uplift. The downtempo “Pale Christmas” digs into a heavy electro-funk groove while also fashioning a romantic wistfulness in its incorporation of symphonic strings, and strong too is “Smile,” which couples a heavy attack with a more languid vocal line.
An occasional nod to other artists surfaces, such as when the organ-driven “Drive” (this album's “Dead Souls”) calls to mind Elvis Costello's “Pump It Up” in a stab at punky New Wave (replete with a distorted vocal snarl and live drumming) that almost convinces and in the blatant “Jean Genie” reference at the start of “Fly,” but such gestures come across as affectionate nods rather than steals. Obviously Left is a credible collection on its own terms and a credible sequel to Pain Disappears, though not perhaps quite as strong on songwriting terms. If there's nothing on the new collection quite at the level of the debut's “Always You,” Left still remains a solid enough follow-up.