The Penelopes – Now Now Now

Spacey and energetic, airy and atmospheric.

The French have really got the formula down when it comes to electronica, don’t they? Over the last two decades, the Gallic nation has offered the dance world an embarassment of riches through acts like Air, Justice, Phoenix, and the cornerstone of continental house music cool, Daft Punk. And now (now, now), Parisian pair Axel Basquiat and Vincent Tremel return to the fray with the lead single off their forthcoming second album, a slight, boppy number that’s brighter than anything off 2006’s ‘The Arrogance of Simplicity’.

Coming off the starting block like a typical 90s house track, echoey vox effects and thumping piano synth, it becomes more interesting as it goes on, but not by a huge margin. The chorus sections recall the style of DJs/remixers the Twelves, especially their squealing, technicolour mix of Black Kids ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ – except the neon intensity there has been diluted into subtler shades here. To an extent, it works: deep, bassy male vocals overlayed with the glassier ones of vocalist Laura Kidd provide a decent tonal contrast, while the middle 8 instrumentals are the sublime point of the whole tune - imagine the minor key sadness of Robert Miles ‘Children’ but minus the sadness - and the looping synth lifts the track into higher realms with its lush sequences. Another plus are the lyrics being more substantial than the usual dreck that plagues commercial dance. An existential sortie on the shortness of life and briefness of youth, it ominously warns to make the most of today: ‘You won’t be young forever / The hands of time tick tock as they turn round, round, round, round’. The morbid musings however are offset and complemented nicely by the hopeful melody and a solid, danceable beat.

Spacey and energetic, airy and atmospheric, there’s yet a nagging feeling it’s not fleshed out enough – but fingers crossed it’s just a taste of what’s to come from across the Channel.

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