Mademoiselle K: Jouer Dehors

Nominally a four-piece band, Mademoiselle K take their name from frontwoman Katerine Gierak, an Elvis-loving Franco lady of rock. 'Jouer Dehors' has musical and stylistic echoes of Jacques Higelin's daughter Izia and the band Oh La La!, but Gierak has been at it longer – her first album was issued in 2006.
With its classy/not-classy cover shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, it’s obvious from the off that 'Jouer Dehors' is going to be polished, with any rough edges unlikely to be truly jarring. And so it is. This melodic pop-rock hoovers up bits of PJ Harvey ('Vade Retro') and Elastica's herk-jerk ('Branc') and applies an FM rock gloss. It succeeds when Gierak puts the brakes on, rather than breathlessly hurtling forward. The acoustic-driven 'Vade Retro' has a yearning melody (despite another of those Elastica rhythmic breakdowns), while the orchestrated piano ballad 'Laurène L'horizon' has the ebb and flow of The Electric Light Orchestra via Coldplay. Contrary to the title, there isn’t much playing outside going on.
Taken as a whole, 'Jouer Dehors', Gierak's third album as Mademoiselle K, is hard to assimilate – it wants to be rock, but is actually pop. What might be explosive seems reined in. The kitten-smooth production and warm-sounding close-miked vocals don’t allow the songs to lift off. 'Sioux' threatens to soar half-way through but the choppy guitars suddenly cave in. Live, it’s bound to be more dynamic and that’s probably where it’d make more sense. Ultimately, though, it’s hard to see who this is for. French audiences for this sort of thing are gong to look to British-language acts. Or even the soul-tearing reflection of Le Prince Miiaou. Not that Gierak should sing in English – a better bet would be shaking off the aspic in which 'Jouer Dehors' is set.
© Kieron Tyler