From cult attention to relative obscurity to appreciative rediscovery mixed with tragedy due to her untimely passing, Lizzy Mercier Descloux's career arc follows an almost classic path -- but story is one thing, results another, and if one is finding out about her for the first time, Best Off provides a great if not ultimately comprehensive one-disc starting point. Aside from three otherwise unavailable numbers, everything is drawn from her various albums and singles, and together it's a slice of pure party mania, moving so seamlessly from disco beats to polyrhythmic highlife to almost Teutonic cabaret vocal delivery and back again that it feels like a constantly evolving mixtape more than anything else. Starting with her merrily frenetic cover of Arthur Brown's "Fire," hearing her switch languages, singing styles, and general approach throughout is wonderfully dizzying, with the one-two punch of "One for the Soul" and "My Funny Valentine," both done with Chet Baker, and the brilliant singles from Mais où Sont Passées les Gazelles, later re-released as Zulu Rock, just some of the many high points. The three "new" French-language tracks will be the hook for otherwise committed fans, coming from the sessions that made up her unreleased album from 1995, which ZE planned to release later in 2006. If in general much more studied than her earlier work, the songs don't undercut it, with Mercier Descloux showing an ear for dramatic keyboard-led songs that calls to mind contemporaneous Peter Murphy, of all people. "Taller" is a slower near ballad spiked with an extensive film dialogue sample, "Bayadere" is structurally similar but with a stronger overall performance thanks to a great chorus, and "Rouge Gorge" reworks a bit of ye-ye style into an easygoing overall groove.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett