Album: Pop Up
Label: Source Etc.
Sometimes you hear songs that, when taken at their individual elements, you’d say “why would anyone like this?” but when taken as a whole, you’d say “how could anyone not like this?” That’s how I feel about Yelle’s 2007 debut album Pop Up. It’s an offering from a modern day band that goes out of its way to have an 80s aesthetic and sonic texture, with a female singer who mostly raps/yells the lyrics on all of their songs. Oh, and they’re French.
I came across Yelle as a result of listening to MSTRKRFT’s Pandora channel a few months ago and I pretty much fell in love. The 80s synths and drum machines being used in more modern sounding styles of dance music works out perfectly, and the fact that I only understand about every 5th word out of singer Julie Budet’s mouth actually works to their advantage, in my opinion. I took a little bit of French in high school and retained almost none of it, but these lyrics sort of act as a cool way for me to pretend like I still understand some of the language. Up beat tunes that have very catchy melodies can become a welcome addition to any dance party you might throw, and the fact that she’s speaking French and they’re playing 80s instruments can only help to add to your hipster cred of liking bands that no one else has heard of.
I’m not sure of this, but I believe that Yelle’s name is actually a portmanteau of the word “yell” and “elle” (which is of course the French word for “she”). I find this to be awesome and I hope it to be true, rather than just a word the band made up.
Pop Up’s first single, “A Cause Des Garçons” is easily the album’s most infectious pop/dance masterpiece. It is itself a cover of an actual 80s song of the same name that was apparently a major hit in France at the time, but failed to reach international exposure (possibly due to the language in which it was written). Yelle’s version contrasts to the original by stripping away the expansive horn section and the noodling 80s style guitar work, while injecting several high and low moments that vibe more with the pop audiences of today. Pop Up also features an incredible (though short) electro house remix of “A Cause Des Garçons” by Yelle member Tepr, included on the US release of the album.
The album does suffer a little bit from all of the songs sounding too similar to each other, but there are stand outs among the crowd with “Ce Jeu,” “Tristess/Joie,” and the aforementioned “A Cause Des Garçons” and it’s remix. All things considered, it’s an above average album with its only fault being too much consistency from track to track. It’s definitely an album I’d recommend to anyone with an interest for a twist on a typical pop sound as well as anyone attempting to look cooler than their friends by singing along in butchered French.
Score: 8/10 (With a little more variety in track style, Pop Up could have been a perfect 10)