Direct from the Parisian overground French pop connoisseurs La Femme released their latest album Mystère on the world in September 2016. Hailing from Le Pré Saint Gervais and Ivry-sur-Seine’s winding rues, La Femme have made a huge mark on modern Paris’s cultural landscape, with the two sides of the city – the glamour and the grit – engrained in their music.
Ever since, the release of their debut album Psycho Tropical Berlin, that topped the French digital charts and the band appeared on national television as the Best New Band of the year at the French Music Awards, their rise has only gained momentum with fans including directors Jacques Audiard and Romain Gavras to legends Jean Michel Jarre and Hedi Slimane. More importantly, the album hit a note with the country’s young population – the group will headline a 6000-capacity arena hometown show this coming January.
Returning with a more psychedelic sound and a range of guest vocalists that slice through the starkest of electro beats, Mystère sees La Femme celebrating all that’s wonderful about their city. From the chattering tête-à-tête heard on ‘Conversations Nocturnes’ that leads into the throbbing disco beat of ‘SSD’ – a direct reference to the pulsing nightlife hotspot and multi-cultural district Strasbourg Saint Denis where the band continue to work and play equally hard – “are you ready to go out, under the threat of the town,” the lyrics translate. “You don’t want to give in and sometimes you need a bit of time to allow for your brain to take in the information and feel better about what’s happening,” they say.
Mystère’s true intrigue however, lies in La Femme’s enigmatic questioning of falling in and out of love. Like a compendium of short stories describing the loves and losses of every boy and girl, each song breaks down language barriers through inventive and astute knack for melody. The elation of a passionate encounter is captured on ‘Tatiana’s ricocheting electronics whilst melancholic acoustic guitar echoes the emptiness felt in ‘Le Vide Est Ton Nouveau Prenom’, the sorrow of a war-torn couple in ‘Psyzook’ and 13-minute wonder ‘Vagues’ is dripping in atmosphere recalling the band’s sun-kissed memories of their early days surfing in Biarritz. “Ou Va Le Monde is not about the matrix system… it’s about life and love. Because now is the end of the past and the beginning of the future,” explains guitarist Sacha Got.
Whether delicate or drenched in dirty disco, the impact of Clémence, Marlon and Sacha’s gothic mantras mixed with the guest vocal talent of Clara Luciani, Jane Peynot, Naomi Greene, Mathilde Marlière, Angela Hureau, Battista Acquaviva and Sarah Ben Abdallah is perhaps where La Femme’s true meaning can be found. “Nothing is frozen. La Femme is a solar system,” explains Sacha of his band’s all-inclusive philosophy. “We don’t like the idea of having a leader or a chief: everyone brings to the band what they can and want….. It also suggests that the woman is a mystery.”
Recorded between a castle in Brittany and a Paris basement before being finished up with Sonny Diperri (Animal Collective) in LA, Mystère once again sees backgrounds blurred and worlds collide. The band’s chic retro-futurist surf-pop sound possesses the same dose of glamorous punk stomp as before, but this time around its layered with an elegant fusion of influences from Ennio Morricone, Marie Et Les Garcons’ disco-rock touch and the lysergic romanticism of The Velvet Underground. Through increased use of strings and further exploration of sound, Mystère also incorporates the band’s new love of oriental sounds, Turkish disco, Tuareg blues, medieval psychedelia to mainstays Brian Eno and Pink Floyd.
“Slow down, take it easy, put Mystère on the record player and allow yourself to be taken far away…” they say. Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Everyone can be a part of La Femme’s world – and it has never felt more alive.