So named because it's a collection of items from here and there -- no real recording details are given -- Curiosités? in its own way serves as a fine little introduction to the world of Watoo Watoo. If nothing else, the half-hour-long compilation gives a nice portrait of some of the band's various inspirations. It kicks off with a cover of Felt's "Tuesdays Secrets," while elsewhere the Wedding Present's "I'm Not Always So Stupid" (beautifully lounged up, almost as if it was a Cinerama song instead) and Serge Gainsbourg's "Raccrochez, C'est Une Horreur" (with appropriate pervy phone conversation recreations) also turn up. Some guests appear here and there on a track, but for the most part it's all down to the partnership of Pascale and Michael Korchia, her singing and his performing creating a series of wistful indie/French pop delights. Pascale nails the sweetly wistful female vocal sound so treasured by many, but has her own gentle spin on it, with a bit of wistful loneliness that can suggest Alison Stratton (something the calm arrangements of the music helps). Check out her work on "Gold Mine" in particular for a fine effort. Meanwhile, Korchia's performances range from merrily frenetic to calm, deliberate turns on guitar and keyboards. The emphasis is on sparer arrangements many times -- sometimes all that's needed is a brief touch of distant drum machines and bass to outline the start of a song, as "Picture of a Lost Friend" shows. That the song can then evolve easily into a rich, oboe-tinged slice of melancholic guitar pop seems perfectly natural. Instrumental digressions like both versions of "Mistery Blues" add some more variety to the understated joys of the album, which deserves a perfect recommendation for anyone who wants to imagine a day in Paris skipping or walking through a light rain.
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