Les Hurlements D'Léo

La Belle Affaire

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La Belle Affaire is the French troupe's Les Hurlements d'Léo's second album, but their first to have enjoyed international distribution. In 39 minutes, the listener is treated to 12 finely crafted songs that establish the group as the legitimate heirs of Les Négresses Vertes. They present the energy of the seminal cross-cultural party outfit, with the raw attitude of La Mano Negra, equal parts of musette and third-wave ska, and a pinch of Algerian spice. The instrumentation includes trumpet, accordion, violin, saxophone, guitars (mostly acoustic), double bass, and drums. The focus remains on acoustic instruments: The electricity comes from the boosted performance, the get-up power of seven musicians that sound more like a gypsy caravan than a rock band. The French touch of the accordion goes beyond local color; Les Hurlements d'Léo ("Leo's screams") embrace their roots and integrate them into a revitalizing sound that could be called the "other" alternative music from France. Each song is a delight, making it very difficult to single out highlights. La Belle Affaire works well as both a party CD and something to listen to more carefully. It's the freshest thing out of France since Les Négresses Vertes' Mlah.

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