Salle des Pas Perdus is a soundtrack for a film that doesn't exist, but if it did, Coralie Clément says that the movie could be Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 A Bout de Souffle. And just as in the movie, Clément's debut record deftly moves between high art and pop culture, from classical arrangements to lushly orchestrated pop to bossa nova, all the while making winks toward '60s French pop. Coralie, in fact, sounds like a young Jane Birkin, and even the cover photo on the CD -- a timeless, stunningly beautiful, and melancholy Clément shot on a Paris street through a red filter -- evokes the artwork on records of such French chanteuses as Françoise Hardy. This album is a result of a collaborative effort that recalls the Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin relationship: Each of the album's tunes was written and arranged by noted composer/writer/performer Benjamin Biolay, Coralie's brother. His themes range from the illusory nature of love ("La Mer Opale," a wistful love song about the moon and the sea, Biolay's trumpet accompanying his sister's almost-whispered vocals as waves wash in the background; theatrical, maybe even kitschy, but utterly lovely), samba ("Samba de Mon Coeur Qui Bat," a swank, loungy bossa nova that echoes Astrud Gilberto), and lighthearted debauchery ("Le Jazz et le Gin"). It is somehow all cohesive, each of the songs a self-contained vignette that pieces together the larger theme of the album. Fans of '60s French pop will feel that they've unearthed a buried jewel in this record.
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AllMusic Review by Kim Reick Kunoff