Bossa nova vocalists covering Eighties’ punk songs may seem like a recipe for banal lift music.
Yet in practice, the peculiar premise behind Nouvelle Vague produces a dreamy concoction of clashing but surprisingly complementary moods and styles. The concept and creative direction of the group comes from two French musicians/producers, Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux. They recruited French and Brazilian vocalists who had never listened to the original versions of classic new-wave singles like Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, and the singers’ lack of prior knowledge means that their interpretations achieve their own identity, bearing virtually no resemblance to the original renditions. The versatile group shows how songs with great lyrics and melodies can thrive even in dramatically different arrangements.
With Eighties’ nostalgia firmly ingrained into contemporary pop culture, it’s extremely refreshing to listen to a group with a playful new take on these revered classics. While staying true to the bossa nova template, Nouvelle Vague often adds a twist of electronica, jazz or trip-hop overtones to their music. The rebellious punk edge of the new-wave classics is sublimely refashioned into lush, laidback, smooth ballads; the original weight of the lyrics gives way to a lounge-accented effervescent pop and the songs remain sincere even in the down-tempo sound—they just have a more simmered down, breezy tilt.
The French collective arrives in Barcelona to showcase their latest endeavour, an elegant turn towards America by adding touches of country and bluegrass to enchanting covers of Eighties hits’ ranging from Talking Heads to Dead Kennedys. With their kitschy, fun tunes and sing-along choruses, this concert will surely make for an ideal rendezvous to say farewell to summer.
September 18th, 10pm (doors 9pm)
€23 in advance (through TickTackTicket); €27 on the door