Sometimes it’s refreshing to listen to bands that sing in a language I don’t understand. In my experiences they’ve been infrequent but always very good. Some artists who come to mind for me are of a pretty diverse background, including Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, Sigur Ros, Seu Jorge, and perhaps my favorite French crooner, the illustrious Serge Gainsbourg.
It is Gainsbourg who Toronto based pop outfit Cactus Club cite as a main influence on their music and rightly his influence creeps into almost every romantic lounge pop tune on Cactus Clubs self-titled debut record Cactus Club, of which all the songs are sung in French.
The opening track “J'Abondonne” has an upbeat alt country melody and quick chops of guitar but underneath the surface we hear at times the occasional twinge of old school ‘80s electronic keyboard elements, squealing like a radio station from far away that is trying to be tuned in.
Next up on “La Fete Au Village” we hear Cactus Club’s heaviest American influences which are the Cars. Again beneath the straightforward, yet extremely catchy bass, guitar and drum play, the old school electric squeals, and if one didn’t know any better one could almost assume “La Fete Au Village” to be a Cars B-side covered by a band singing in French.
Cactus Club busts out the organ-synth to some pretty great effect on “Mona Lisa” a bright pop-ballad. The band then outdoes themselves with the psychedelic slow-dance beauty of “Naturellement Antipathique” a slow, piano driven ballad that sounds like half love song half lullaby.
This lullaby of sorts then gives way to “Du Feu a ma Cigarette” a dark, psychedelic jam session reminiscent of a lounge act style version of a Doors tune. This “cool darkness” takes a more measured and beatnik styled flow on the intoxicating and mellow “Les Tricheurs.” They show their range can extend to heavy rocking too as they display later on the rich and powerful blues inspired rocker “Mary Lou.”
Even if you don’t speak a lick of French you should still check out Cactus Club by Cactus Club. Words may be lost in translation but music never is.
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