The classic punk is suddenly back in vogue. With that in mind, two well-seasoned French multi instrumentalists and producers going by the names Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux went into the studio with a parade of French, New York and Brazilian guest female vocalists. By stripping back arrangements to acoustic instruments and lithe shaker rhythms they covered over a dozen essential punk tunes from the Dead Kennedys to The Cure with a Brazilian flavor. Translating as both new wave in English and bossa nova in Portugese, Nouvelle Vague cleverly merges polar opposites.
Take, "Take Love Will Tear Us Apart," in which lulling guitars, chiming vibraphones and a smoldering Brazilian voice transform the icy despair of Joy Division's original into a sultry, melancholy reverie. Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough" is re-imagined as a non-electronic track with massed percussion, strummed guitars and mischievously detached vocals. The Clash's bristling "Guns Of Brixton" is lent a new, jazzy intimacy while a deadpan reading of The Specials' "Friday Night And Saturday Morning," somehow recasts provincial British ennui as a thing of cosmopolitan feminine panache. Selected and essayed with a connoisseur's ear Nouvelle Vague is an album of sincere homage that is as disarming as it is compelling. If nothing else, by album's end you'll marvel at the consistent compositional brilliance of such disparate, part-forgotten songs.
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)
Just Can't Get Enough (Depeche Mode)
A Forest (The Cure)