Premier Album

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Lio's first album was in many ways a perfect meeting of the minds, with the still-teenage singer working with members of fellow Belgian act Telex, among others, to create what was then a perfectly state-of-the-art album that still holds up remarkably well. If the following Suite Sixtine was even more of a new wave classic thanks to the participation of Sparks and their attendant revamp of many of the songs here, Premier Album is hardly a wash, with Lio's later interest in any number of pop styles foreshadowed throughout. The opening "Amicalement Votre" ranks up with Blondie's girl group/'60s reinterpretations -- and clearly the New York group was a strong source of inspiration throughout -- while "Le Banana Split" rides that feeling even more strongly, resulting in her first European hit. There's slick Europop with disco leanings like "Comix Discomix" as well as slower shades of AOR ballads (sonically at least) like "La Petite Amazone," but the heart of the album is sweetly merry proto-synth pop such as "Amoureux Solitaires" and "Bebe Vampire" that practically fizzes upon listening. There are all sorts of sharp surprises to the arrangements throughout, though -- consider the great string arrangements that swirl through numbers like "J'Obtiens Toujours Ce Que Je Veux," another hint at future paths. And who could knock a salsa-tinged song with the almost Serge Gainsbourg-like title of "Speedy Gonzales"? There are some jarring moments at points -- her delivery on a cover of "You Go to My Head" has an uncomfortably whining edge not apparent in later efforts -- but nothing truly off. The 2006 reissue includes four bonus tracks, notably an early extended version of "Le Banana Split," as well as the shoulda-been-on-the-album genius of "Je Ne Sais Pas Dire Oui" and a Spanish version of an album cut, "Amantes Solitarios."

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