Austerlitz are a three-piece electro-indie / art-punk band from Paris. They boast, and I quote from their PR, “Virtuosic keyboard lines, intricate bass work, a typically French vocal irreverence that moves from the practically crooned through strident and soaring to sporadic bayings of raw emotion all combine to create a devastating and freely intelligent alternative from our brothers across la Manche“.
Seriously, who writes this stuff? Many artists have produced work that is engaging, informative, moving and affecting, but to go for “devastating”? Maybe it’s the inherent gallic sense of cultural superiority that fuels such hubris.
Coming from across the Channel and being a Rosbif my historical disposition should be one of outright hostility to the very notion of French Rock / Pop. However I’ll be upfront and express my admiration and enjoyment of Brel (Yes, I know he was Flemish, but sang in French), Mylene Farmer, Alizee, Phoenix, Air, Daft Punk Young Gods, Minamata and of course, Serge Gainsbourg.
Well, unfortunately, my download had no track listing which is a shame, because I can’t identify each song although I’m on Track 4 and the singer has berated the listener for “having rotten ears” and pleading for us to give the band ” a f**king break”. Okay, I will..
This is what used to be classed as “Power/ Synth-Pop”. It’s polished, bouncy and completely of itself. If someone played this to me and asked me to identify its country of origin, then I’d have immediately gone for “French”. There’s something about it’s resolutely European sensibility and sound. Some tracks remind me of Killers, and occasionally the debt owed to Phoenix is unmistakable. The first track’s keyboard riffing and prog structuring (although under five minutes) reminded me of Focus. At a time when there seems to be a surfeit of musicians taking some of the worst excesses of prog and running them further into the ground, something this punchy and song-centered comes as quite a relief.
I’ll assume that English is the band’s second (third?) language which manifests itself in some interesting lyrical turns (‘Smoothing my anger”). Their natural French doesn’t come into use until the bi-lingual lyrics of Track 9 and sounds great. Their desire to play with the big boys in a language not their own is to be applauded. It worked for me.
If you like any of the bands I mentioned above, check this lot out. I enjoyed the 10 tracks I heard and I’m relieved to report that I was not devastated by any of it. Au contraire, it left me, in fact, tres jolie. Tres Bien, Austerlitz, tres bien.
Visit Austerlitz: Facebook
Other reviews: Trebuchet
Also – check out video that the band did for “Walking In The Fire” video below!