Do you remember that girl at school? The obscenely cool, outrageously super confident, super attractive one who all the boys fancied? Well at the age of twenty one she was a burnt out single mum, pushing a pram, attending drug dependency clinic once a week. She still got out of her council flat now and then for a night of drunken debauchery with her best friend, but even those nights out felt awkward and forced, her cool factor replaced with a hint of desperation. Sometimes when the lights were shining behind her it was possible to see what made that girl so attractive in the first place, but you had to be standing in the right location.
Rather like that girl, the French electro label Kitsune Maison compilations have always held their place as the super confident, super cool taste forming albums. But with their 8th release there are signs that things have gone a little off track. The label isn’t pushing that pram yet, but there are signs that it could happen. Kitsune’s compilations are focussed on bringing the hipster party to the home stereo, but there are a number of times on this album when the music sounds as if too much time has been spent trying to make it sound hip and not enough on bringing quality in inventiveness to the dance floor.
There are still plenty of hits, but in places the quality control is urinated away, leaving things sounding cheap and shabby. Have Kitsune Maison taken their eye off things a little? Maybe. This is the sound of electro pop getting a little too drunk, sliding up against the wall of the nightclub, flashing its knickers and snogging the first laptop carrying cool kid that passes by.
That’s not to say it’s full of duffers though. Memory Tapes create something fresh and dreamy with Bicycle. It pedals its way with a blissed out groove and adds snatches of New Order / Cure like guitar together with a choir sample over its trippy loopy backing. Maybe it’s more of a home listening track than a club banger, but it’s a languidly beautiful tune. Our only complaint is that it would have been better positioned right at the end of the album. This Momentary by Delphic with its washes of keyboards, soft chanted vocals and crashing warlike drums has a tidal build that grows and grows into a dry ice and strobe induced moment of Hacienda glory. Even if the track sounds more like a remix than a song on its own right it’s still very good. The Drums Let’s Go Surfing has been well documented on this blog previously here and seems a little out of place on an electro dance album, but it remains a fun whistle-a-groove-along pop song. French Horn Rebellion also succeed by whipping out the cheesy synths, camp vocals and keeping a pop sensibility that cheers easily on their lead track Up All Night.
But then there’s the bad. Le Corps Mince De Françoise are just too wacky for their own good. Like a nursery rhyme CSS, they may be fun to listen to once but the second attempt leaves us slamming our head against the wall screaming “No more.” If electro pop is made for the clubs, Le Corps Mince De Françoise were out the back popping far too many pills. Even worse is I Love London by Crystal Fighters. An infuriating mix of percussion and dirty synth bass it’s as if Bonde Do Role were tasked with recording the most annoying sounding hipster track ever. This song is that girl we mentioned just as she got pregnant. So full of confidence, it forgets what it is doing, jumping up and down shouting "Cool kids please love me." It is utterly terrible. Further tracks by Parallels, Jolie Cherie and the Crystal Castles gone even more wrong of Heartsrevolution are all the kind of toss that hipsters will proclaim are the future of music, but we can’t imagine anyone listening to any of these tunes in six weeks let alone six months.
Come on Kitsune Maison. This is not the essential electro collection that we know you can do. Your vision has become blurred. We don’t want you ending up as a sad single mum yet.