By John Armstrong, Rock At Night Manchester Correspondent
Album review: Popincourt’s “A New Dimension of Modern Love”
Relaxed and smooth, cool and sweet; multi-instrumentalist Olivier Popincourt’s natural suave French chic reminds us what pop music should be. Bright, breezy and buoyant. With the obvious exception of the two instrumentals the album is delivered in English, Olivier’s own vocals perfectly blending with the recognisable sparkling surf and ye-ye sonic qualities of the backing singers Gabriela and Zelda of French Boutik; whose presence should come as no surprise as Olivier Popincourt provided the keyboards on their Front Pop album.
An opening drum fill propels the album into an energetic bouncing pop rush with a memorable chordal break in “I Found Out”, quickly followed by the title track “A New Dimension To Modern Love” which is jazzed out smooth zinging along at a moderate pace. The obvious comparison for when pop goes jazz would be with The Style Council, but this is different; here it is an integral part of the sound rather than the more mixed-media approach of Café Blue there is a fully evolved wholeness, not a selection of different styles across the album.
“The First Flower Of Spring” has spikey guitar chops and vibrating keys, the rumbling bass adds an almost subliminal element; the temptation would have been to make it more dominant, subtlety is far more effective and Sebastien Souchois – who also contributed alto sax to the album – compassionately mixed without succumbing to that temptation.
“The Things That Pass” begins with solitary vocal and guitar, it is slower and restless with a prominent Beatlesesque backing vocal line that appears out of the verse and a Wurlitzer-from-space sound turns an unexpected corner.
“Improvisations / Part 1” proves jazz can be danceable, the bass settles into a groove while the sax has a whale of a time.
“Happy Town” stabbing horns brings to minds Dobie Gray’s “The In Crowd” mixed with the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City” and deserves to be played as often as both those classics, sunlight shines through the whole track.
“Will We Be Friends” (the sleeve track list says “We Will Be Friends”) ye-ye French-ness comes to the fore with a bossa nova twist as the sun-umbrellas of St Tropez morph into those of Ipanema.
A punching snare beat lies below “The Risk Of Losing You” as soaring turning vocals perform a starling murmuration over XTC-ish chord patterns – this indeed is pop.
“Off Track” takes the pace down a couple of notches as liquid keyboards lead into bass runs and guitar stabs with call and response vocals, a sudden staccato section and then the trumpet break kicks in to take it home.
Fading in as an almost Bo Diddly rhythm with an Ultravoxian synth, “Improvisation / Part 2” lives for only 1’26” barely an introduction, before possibly the most Style Council-esque feel of all the tracks here; “Want You To Be a Souvenir”, there is a lilting swing, before the twist in the tail vocals of the coda possessing a distinct Byrdsian quality.
Summery bright guitar chords punctuate “The Reason Why” and at once the bass is more prominent. There is a groove throughout and even the slower tracks invite movement and to dance your way through all twelve, but the album is equally suited to sitting back and simply enjoying this 35minute oasis of calm that lingers like a warm glow after it has faded into silence.
A New Dimension To Modern Love is available on Jigsaw Records HERE
Website – http://www.popincourtmusic.com
Video – I Found Out
Video – The First Flower Of Spring
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/popincourtmusic/