Les Breastfeeders

Dans la Gueule des Jours

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One of the more enduring clichés in the Big Book of Conventional Musical Wisdom is that the French may be skilled at a great many things, but they're just about hopeless at playing rock & roll. Since Les Breastfeeders are actually from Montreal, Canada, some might be willing to let them out of this rule of thumb on a technicality, but the band's real strength is they get to the real root of the stereotype and demonstrate that while it may not be easy for a rock & roll shouter to get over in French, it can be done. On Les Breastfeeders' third album, Dans le Gueule des Jours, the band's three vocalists -- Luc Brien, Suzie McLelove, and Daniel Bosse -- manage to sound appropriately snotty and swaggering (but also musical) in the Gallic tongue. Actually, McLelove doesn't generate snot so much as a cool but genuine disdain; most of her numbers are clearly influenced by classic girl group pop, and she catches just the right tone on numbers like "Si Je Retiens la Nuit" and "Betty Lou," with her vocal sophistication running neck and neck with her street smarts. And Luc Brien wails like a proper rock & roll frontman, full of fire and ready to show you what's what, even as he navigates the tricky twists and turns of the French-language lyrics, which often lack the natural percussive force of most English-language material. Just as importantly, Les Breastfeeders are a solid and eclectic band who write solid, witty material and can deliver the goods in the studio; throwing together 1960s pop, '70s punk, and garage rock of all eras, the group honors rock's past with a present-day degree of sweat, muscle, and middle-finger sass, and even with the language barrier firmly in place, the humor and celebratory joy of this music is palpable. So, yes, you can rock out in French -- you just have to try harder, and Les Breastfeeders make the effort pay off on Dans le Gueule des Jours.

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