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AU REVOIR SIMONE – The Bird of Music (CD, Moshi Moshi Records)

Posted: March 28th, 2007, by Simon Minter

New York female trio Au Revoir Simone come from broadly the same musical world as artists like Stereolab and Broadcast – a world of analogue synths, programmed drumbeats and Krautrock-inflected pop music. On The Bird of Music, their second album, they do nothing to distance themselves from this world, with eleven tracks of sweet-natured electronic harmony, rich synthesised melody and impassive, slightly detached vocals.

The relaxed opening track ‘The Lucky One’ sets the tone well. “A dream of togetherness / Turned into a brighter mess” are fine opening lines, speaking of confused romance and hopeful dreams. The music takes its time, with a simple muted beat plodding underneath a sparse keyboard line. It dissolves into the repeated line “So let the sun shine” before fading away. As the album continues, it skips between a couple of styles: firstly, Broadcast-like repetitive and layered sounds behind angelic, sweet vocals, and secondly more upbeat ‘dinky-donk’ tunes that are as much electronic indie-pop as they are brooding introspection.

A couple of times the synthetic backing is limiting. Moments like the cutesy videogame keyboard line on ‘Sad Song’, the mid-90s indie-pop demo drumbeat of ‘Dark Halls’, and the line “You make me want to measure stars in the backyard, with a calculator and a ruler, baby” on ‘Stars’ are almost unbearably twee, and are in danger of disappearing into fluffy nothingness. But such moments are separated by songs like ‘Lark’ and ‘Don’t See The Sorrow’, which really benefit from this warm, electronic style of music in their chilly simplicity and heartfelt closeness. The standout track is the short, intimate ‘I Couldn’t Sleep’, with ever-so-hurt vocals dreaming over layered arpeggios of keyboards and delicate beats, the total effect recalling very early Human League or the darker moments of the aforementioned Broadcast.

This album is very pleasant listening. My worry is that Au Revoir Simone get too happy, and let their slightly bland perkiness overtake the rich seams of emotion and poise that they often seem to hit upon. It’s sometimes difficult for a band with purely electronic instrumentation not to fall into such a quirky or bland trap: let’s hope that this band doesn’t.

Au Revoir Simone
Moshi Moshi Records

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


4 Responses to AU REVOIR SIMONE – The Bird of Music (CD, Moshi Moshi Records)

  1. JGRAM

    David Lynch loves them I hear

  2. simonminter

    Speaking of the Lynch, anybody here seen his new movie yet?

  3. JGRAM

    I saw it and it was a real endurance which I didn’t find half as rewarding as everyone else that has seen it.

    That said, I didn’t clock the three narrative element of the movie which begins to hint at coherence (ha ha).

    my hat goes off to Lynch though for getting away with murder for getting such a mainstream release (although UK distribution has been limited due to Lynch’s reluctance to edit and make the movie shorter)

  4. simonminter

    He’s distributing it himself, isn’t he? So that he doesn’t have to fuck with it to satisfy a distributor?