Hidden Agenda / Parasol
French pop music has a pretty scruffy reputation, and deservedly so. Things have been looking up lately, though, with electro-poppers Air, Daft Punk, and Mirwais along with the delightful Tahiti 80 doing more than their share to savior whatever’s left — and now Orwell’s chipping in to.
Like all of those above, Orwell operate in that chilled pop setting that seems to demand elegantly worn-out suits, semi-expensive drinks and a casually sedated crowd — and, with typical French charm, still retaining both some sort of substance and warmth. How on earth do they do that? Well, Orwell’s manner is playing great pop melodies rendered with laid back gentleness and a solid sense of pure pop perfectionism that always leave room for spontaneity and melodic looseness.
Check out opening cut and first single “Toutes les nouvelles parlent d’hier,” a shimmering slab of pop sparkling with casual brilliance and easiness. And there’s a great version of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Clair.” The fact that they get away with it is saying a lot. Leaning heavily on 1970s soft rock and West Coast pop, you’re not getting rattled by what you hear on here, but Orwell is doing it with such style and class that it’s pretty hard, and mainly pointless, to argue against it. If it’s a bit too much like a soundtrack to some Parisian bohemian dinner party for some, rest assured that you’ll return to cruel reality soon enough. As it is, this is more than enough to entertain you for the album’s 45-minute duration.