The Konki Duet: Let's Bonapp├ętons

The all-female trio of Zoé (French), Kumi (Japanese) and Tamara (Russian) released their first album in 2004 on the now-dormant Active Suspension, home for a while to wonderful left-field pop/electronic types including Hypo and EDG, O.Lamm, David Balula and Domotic and they're back in the fold and on surviving sister label Clapping Music (the album's a joint release with Tsunami-Addiction). That debut, Il Fait Tout Gris was an almost unbearably fragile collection of music-box melodies and willowy instrumentation (and a cover of Visage's 'Fade to Grey' that gave the record its title), the girls singing and playing for all the world as if their hearts were about to evaporate. 

In between there and here there's been another album, the sturdier Mountain Mouton and the Ensemble EP which, with its muscular lead track, an instrumental called 'Riff' and the poppier likes of 'Isolée' pointed towards the version of the band we get on the gleefully titled Let's Bonappétons. Not forgetting Kumi's cutesy disco pop adventures as Kumisolo either, which 'Kenjamin' comes quite close to. It's Domotic (real-name Stéphane Laporte) who's on production duties and, following Karaocake's 'Rows and Stitches', it seems he's on a roll with analogue synth-heavy girl-pop.
As emphasised by the glam outfits they sport on the sleeve, Let's Bonappétons is the group's most confident-sounding release to date, marked by heavier drums and a handful of stomping numbers like opener 'Heartful' and 'Savoir-Faire', which comes on a bit like Deerhoof at their poppiest but is actually a pretty faithful cover of a song by Family Fodder. Some might miss the delicacy of old but this is not so divorced from the Konkis' previous work. They're still balancing simplicity and structural sophistication; 'L'Esprit De La Ruche' rides in on one of those descending, 'Dear Prudence'-style chord sequences they are fond of before taking in numerous twists and turns.
Most of all, despite its bursts of brashness, Let's Bonappétons is shot through with a diffuse melancholy that the group don't seem able to shake. It's all over 'Bungalow', where the langorous chorus recalls EDH, and the grungy chords of 'Sand 'n' Salt' - and the final song is called 'Everyday Is Worse Than The Day Before'. Which is fine, of course. Every record will be more bittersweet than the one before, hopefully.
David McKenna