Nouvelle Vague (album)

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Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague.jpg
Studio album by Nouvelle Vague
Released 9 August 2004 (UK)
2 November 2004 (France)
3 May 2005 (US)
Genre Easy listening, lounge, bossa nova
Length 46:30
Label Peacefrog (UK / France)
PFG051 / PFG051CD
(standard edition, 8/04)
(limited edition, 11/04)

Luaka Bop (US)
Producer Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague chronology
Nouvelle Vague
Bande à Part
(2006)Bande à Part2006
American release cover
Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague alternate.jpg

Nouvelle Vague is the 2004 self-titled debut album by the French band Nouvelle Vague. The album consists entirely of easy listening and bossa nova versions of songs that were written and recorded during the post-punk/new wave era. The band's name is a play on words, new wave and bossa nova being the literal translations, in English and Portuguese respectively, of the French phrase Nouvelle Vague, which is itself a reference to the French cinema movement of the 1950s and 1960s.[1] The songs are recorded with female vocalists who had not previously heard the songs they would be covering.[2]

Background and production[edit]

Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux began work on the project in 2003, after Collin had the idea of covering Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in a bossa nova style.[3] Libaux later explained: "I met Marc Collin during the 90's, at a friend's place. Marc was the first musician I met in years who I could talk [to] about new wave music. For some reason, at the end of the 80's, punk and new wave music had turned into a sort of old-fashioned music, which nobody was talking about anymore. Meeting Marc, I could talk about The Stranglers, The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy again. We then have worked on a couple of albums he was producing ... Starting Nouvelle Vague was sounding obvious for us, as our ideas were matching, and the songs were happening well and quickly."[4] The album was produced and recorded over a period of eight months.[3]


The Guardian included the album's artwork in a list of the ten "most beautiful sleeves of 2004".[5] The newspaper wrote, "The band's covers feature sultry 1960s figures, the work of fashion designer Giles Deacon, with a self-consciously lo-fi feel."[5] The album's art director was quoted explaining, "We were very anti-computer ... Each letter of the band's name was cut out by hand, but done so in a deliberately rigid manner, as a kind of whimsical nod to modernism."[5]


The album peaked at number 69 in the French album charts, spending a total of 39 weeks in the top 200.[6] The album also charted in Belgian album charts, peaking at number 100 in the Walloon chart and number 96 in the Flemish chart.[6] In 2006 it was reported that the album had sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars [8]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[9]
NME 1/10 stars[10]
Pitchfork (7.0/10) [11]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [12]
The Telegraph (favourable)[1]

The album received generally positive reviews. Pitchfork's reviewer wrote, "The supposed ignorance of the singers plays well for this record's lack of irony, a big part of what makes it succeed as a well-meaning, well-executed novelty."[11] The Telegraph wrote, "Marc Collin and Oliver Libaux and their eight guest chanteuses transform these songs with such skill and sincerity to their Latin syncopation that each becomes altogether new and lovely."[1] The Guardian's reviewer wrote, "Only a frisky samba romp through Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough flirts with kitsch. Elsewhere, familiar lyrics and arrangements are turned inside out to generate frosty menace (The Clash's Guns of Brixton), giggly coquetry (Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys) or haunting langour (The Cure's A Forest, teeming with birdsong)."[9]

The more negative reviews take issue with the concept of the album itself. Allmusic's review begins: "The best compliment that can be paid to Nouvelle Vague's self-titled debut album: it isn't as arch and smirking as a collection of bossa nova versions of new wave classics by fetching French and Brazilian chanteuses would suggest."[8] The NME gave the album a 1 out of 10 rating, writing, "the very concept of Nouvelle Vague - alternative '80s hits done in a deeply kitsch, sub-Bebel Gilberto sunset-samba style - is one that's so tired, so looooong past any imagined sell-by date that we're honestly astounded it exists."[10] Several reviewers drew comparisons, both favourable[9][13] and unfavourable,[10] with an album of Kraftwerk covers recorded by the German musician Uwe Schmidt (also known as Señor Coconut), El Baile Alemán (2000).

In 2015, The Telegraph named the album's cover of "Just Can't Get Enough" in a list of the "50 best covers".[14]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Original artist Length
1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" Joy Division 3:18
2. "Just Can't Get Enough" Depeche Mode 3:07
3. "In a Manner of Speaking" Tuxedomoon 3:58
4. "Guns of Brixton" The Clash 4:06
5. "This Is Not a Love Song" Public Image Ltd 3:47
6. "Too Drunk to Fuck" Dead Kennedys 2:16
7. "Marian" The Sisters of Mercy 3:53
8. "Making Plans for Nigel" XTC 3:32
9. "A Forest" The Cure 3:39
10. "I Melt with You" Modern English 4:00
11. "Teenage Kicks" The Undertones 2:13
12. "Psyche" Killing Joke 4:12
13. "Friday Night Saturday Morning" The Specials 4:22
14. "Sorry for Laughing" (bonus included on special edition) Josef K 3:09
15. "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" (bonus included on special edition) A Flock of Seagulls 2:42

Vocalists : Eloisia (tracks 1 and 2), Camille (tracks 3, 4, 6, and 8), Mélanie Pain (tracks 5 and 11), Alex (track 7), Marina Céleste (tracks 9 and 14), Silja (tracks 10 and 15), Sir Alice (tracks 12), and Daniella D’Ambrosio (track 13).


  1. ^ a b c Muggs, Joe (2 August 2004). "Pop CDs of the week: Teddy Wilson, Skinnyman and more: Nouvelle Vague". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2006. 
  2. ^ O'Connor, Pauline (2 October 2005). "Nouvelle Vague: Offstage, the Band Plays On". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Libaux, Olivier (7 July 2009). "Talking Shop: Nouvelle Vague". BBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Burger, David (30 January 2010). "Bossa nova meets new wave". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Dunmore, Tom (17 December 2004). "The most beautiful sleeves of 2004". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Nouvelle Vague — Nouvelle Vague (album)". (in French). Retrieved 23 March 2016. 
  7. ^ Conte, Chritsophe (31 May 2006). "Nouvelle Vague: Bande à part". Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Phares, Heather. Nouvelle Vague: Nouvelle Vague > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 20 March 2006.
  9. ^ a b c Lynskey, Dorian (30 July 2004). "Album review". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Fitzpatrick, Rob (12 September 2005). "Nouvelle Vague: The cold, dead hand of kitsch reaches the alternative '80s...". NME. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Crock, Jason (February 16, 2005). "Nouvelle Vague: Nouvelle Vague> Review". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 March 2006. 
  12. ^ Swanson, David (February 10, 2005). "Tweaked!: Nouvelle Vague Nouvelle Vague > Album Review". Rolling Stone (967). p. 84. Archived from the original on 3 October 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2006. 
  13. ^ Conte, Cristophe (30 April 2004). "Critique album". Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  14. ^ Telegraph reporters (31 July 2015). "The 50 best covers". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2016. 

External links[edit]