Oh La La!: Oh La La!

The name Oh La La! isn’t stunningly original. It’s also pretty unhelpful for internet searches. Their key players are familiar too. Guitarist Benjamin Lebeau is quasi-ubiquitous: a member of The Shoes and lost post-punkers The Film, he’s also recently cropped up on 'Ginger', the last Gaëtan Roussell album, both as a player and arranger.

The focus of Oh La La!, though, is frontwoman and songwriter Natasha Le Jeune who, in 2003, joined AS Dragon - the band formed by Bertrand Burgalat as his backing outfit - as their singer when they decided to assert their own identity. After leaving them in 2007, she resurfaced with Lebeau as Oh La La!

On first pass, it seems that the choice of Oh La La! could be a reference to Elli & Jacno’s benchmark 1981 electropop single of the same name. Indeed, Oh La La! do nod heavily ‘80s-ward. But there’s more going on here than that – their debut album is produced by Lebeau and Julian Delfaud, a mixer (Air and M), collaborator with Etienne de Crécy and Alex Gopher, as well as producer of Phoenix. Lebeau and Delfaud also worked together on the Gaëtan Roussell album. Stressing just how embedded this lot are in Franco pop, Phillipe Katerine guests on one track. The press info comparing Oh La La! to Les Rita Mitsouko does them few favours. What’s the point of being cast as the new Fred and Catherine?

(Picture: David McKenna)

Energetic and shape-throwing live, Le Jeune merges her background in ballet with a lizard-lady Iggy-a-like persona. It evokes something that’s more Club Gibus via Au Bout de Souffle cute than CBGBs, but that transatlantic feel does bleed into Oh La La’s debut album: even when singing in French, Le Jeune sounds peculiarly American. Oh La La! deal in a jagged, clipped and chugging new wave rock that sports slab-like guitar, glam beats, squeaky keyboards and bubblegum melodies. It’s like a more sophisto Elastica. Once heard, (the French-language) 'Relax' is impossible to rid your head of. The more reflective 'Rendez-Vous Avec Un Salaud' sounds like a college-rock hit single, while the hyper-tuneful 'Oser' could be another 45. So could the hardly-risqué 'Nu Dans Ton Jean', an all-out winner. Sure, this is all about style, but whatever - it’s infectious, tune-heavy pop.

© Kieron Tyler