Tara King Theory. I’d never heard of them and then, somehow, they dropped out of the sky into my collection. I feel insufferably cool as a result. Why?
- They’re French, so that gives me points for obscurity (only applicable in the US of ‘Merica).
- They’ve been compared to Portishead, a touchstone of coolness.
- They’re named after a 60’s era British TV show character which makes it obscurity piled on obscurity.
But all of that is wrong!
- In fact, I did hear about them somehow, but I don’t remember how. Probably, I overheard the tattooed bike messenger at Whole Foods talking to her metrosexual boyfriend about Derrida. As you know, Derrida retroactively influenced the development of … well … whatever. You get the picture.
- Like Portishead? Not the album I bought, Extravagant, Grotesque, and Nonchalant. Maybe it’s true, if Portishead used more guitars, turned off whatever recurrent electro-bleep noises and sounded sleepy instead of drugged-out lonely.
- OK, they are named after the TV show character. That part’s not wrong.
I could tell you about the music, about the lyrical themes and whatnot, but that’s not what caught my ear. It sounds like a lazy 60’s psychedelic band got caught in the musical merry-go-round along with a tiny cute French singer and her oversize male counterpart. That’s a good thing! I like the unfamiliar combination of familiar things. With Amélie in heavy rotation at home, it must have spilled over into my musical collection. Unlike in Amélie, the delicate French accent speaks words I already understand. That’s good since my mobular* phoney music player just doesn’t do subtitles that well.
In music and most anything else, I’m a sucker for slight twists on a familiar format. French lyrics or even a French accent takes me away from over-thinking to just enjoying. For all I know, the lyrics to the song “Disparais-moi” could be about car parts or maybe even something like disappearing and feeling unknown. Who knows? I just like the way it flows. The song “Hating Your Guts” might be about the moon, car parts, or despising someone. Who knows? It just oozes a gentle intensity. The relentless bass guitar of “Talking Too Loud” drives me straight past the lyrics so I can’t even tell if she’s still singing in Croatian about car parts or anything else for that matter.
In the end, this album isn’t a frequent play, but it is a happy surprise. It’s like Björk in that no one can survive 3 straight trips through her albums, but isn’t it just perfect when it pops up occasionally? When I’ve had enough of my regular dose of folky shoegaze, trance-inducing psychedelica, or reminiscing about the Doors, I can pop this on to twist my ears back into shape. Want someone else’s view? This album is well covered by wears the trousers.
OK, what does this music connect to? The occasionally bouncy keyboards sound like some of the lighter songs of Les Breastfeeders (a rocking Francophone band from Quebec). The combined male/female vocal dynamic sounds like Dee Dee (from the Dum Dum Girls) and Brandon Welchez (from the Crocodiles) should sound when they finally release a collaboration. The female vocalist does sound like a less intense version of Portishead’s own Beth Gibbons. The pace and texture of the songs resembles a less minimalist version of Widowspeak. Thankfully, none of the songs are about car parts.
*Yeah, I know my spelling isn’t perfectastic, but it sounds bettlier if I write it that way.