If you are like me and have had a sustained interest in all things French, and French females in particular, then you will have an interest in the compilation French Girls on the Catalogue label. There were a few names I knew and quite a few I didn't know, so I was quite curious to check it out. And while I think the end result is a little bit too remix heavy, causing the French female vocals to often take a backseat, I still found this to be an enjoyable compilation which has led me to some artists I had not considered or known about in the past. I think it was a good thing to limit this release to one country in an attempt to really dig into that country's sound.
Things get going at a fine clip with the stop and start electro rhythms of Lake Soul featuring Mathilde on Autour de toi and the techno trance of Scratch Massive on La face cachee. Le fils cache. While I could have used more vocals on the Scratch Massive track (which was mixed by Demon), I still thought it was a great track. Miss Kittin & the Hacker bring things back to an electro vibe with her now classic (and non-radio friendly) Frank Sinatra 2001. I was under impressed with the two tracks featuing Chloé - I Hate Dancing and In And Out (the seond one also has Sextoy - and is actually included in track 12 but is listed on the sleeve as track 13). These were both electro tracks which didn't seem to go anywhere - plus these two songs are sung in English, an odd trend throughout this compilation. I have loved Autour De Lucie for a few years now, but I was not as into their remix cd as I was their albums. So even though the remix of Je Reviens included here (The Money Penny Project Remix) spruces up the complete downer that the original album version was, I wish they had included an album or rare track instead. If you have never heard Autour De Lucie, it wouldn't hurt to start with this track, though it dispenses with the crucial lead vocal in place of a repeated sample of the chorus.
My favorite tracks all were near the end of the compilation. Starting with the tremendous Aujourd'hui meme by Holden which is an amazing, quirky indie pop song, like a more playful Stereolab (Holden were also featured on the Japanese compilation Allo La France?…Moshi Moshi? - une selection par Katerine). Ollano's Latitude is another true highlight, in a loungey remix by Air (Ollano were also featured on the Atomium 3003 compilation on Bungalow Records). My last two favorite tracks are the more subdued dubby Broadcast-like (Tapping) the source by Cocosuma and the acoustically pulsing Bain de minuit by Klima. Both tracks are sung in English (hmmm) and are minimal acoustic affairs and two peas in a pod.
While I did enjoy French Girls - I was left wondering if this might be a series of compilations (if indeed they decided to make it a series) which could improve as they dig deeper. In any event, it certainly wouldn't hurt to include more French girls singing in French, and less remixes next time.