Yelle ‘Complètement Fou’ (Kemosabe)

Julie Budet and GrandMarnier confirm their reservation at the top table with a third album of quality electropop

First things first. Yelle’s Julie Budet is French. Which means she speaks French, like a French person. It also means she sings in French. What with her being French and all that. But some folk seem to think that’s not on. They think she should sing in English. Because, of course, acts who sing in English always show off their language skills when releasing records in other countries. Pfut.

‘Complètement Fou’ (‘Completely Crazy’), Yelle’s third long one following their 2008 debut, ‘Pop-Up’, and 2011’s sophomore outing, ‘Disco Safari Club’, suffers not one jot from its Frenchness. It only adds to its charm and finds the pairing of Budet and GrandMarnier with a joyful slab of electropop on their hands. Whether the vocals are played straight or tinkered to destruction in the production, with steam sometimes coming out of the auto-tune by the sounds of it, Budet’s tones are a delight. Whatever it is she’s singing about.

But while our schoolboy French extends only so far, we know mucky talk when we hear it and we know that the word “baise” appears with some frequency. There’s plenty of cute wordplay in evidence too, though. You can hear the rhythm in the language, the tongue-twisting delights on show, the rattlingly fast delivery. And it all comes riding into town on some of the most infectious melodies you’ll hear all year.

‘Coca Sans Bulles’ is a stone-cold hit whatever lingo it’s in. It’s been stuck in our head for so long, we’ve taken to whistling it. So here’s a thing. The songwriting here is of such high standard that many of the tracks would stand up with just Budet and an acoustic. And you know what, they almost prove it with by chucking some twangy guitar on ‘Un Jour Viendra’. 

It speaks volumes for the quality of Yelle that Dr Luke, the guy who co-wrote and produced globe-swallowing hits for Katy Perry, Avril Lavinge and Pink, happily puts in a shift here. Unshackled from the demands of the shiny, sugary pop day job, Dr Luke brings an edge to proceedings picked up from back when he was cutting his teeth twiddling for the likes of KRS-One, Arrested Development and Mos Def. It’s money where your mouth too, as he’s signed Yelle to his own Kemosabe label. High praise indeed.

The opening trio of tracks are total slayers. It starts with the title track and a punchy keyboard run that erupts into a hands-in-the-air floorfiller, complete with Daft Punky phased breakdown. Next is the thrilling ‘Ba$$in’, which crams so much into its three short minutes you fear it might burst. Then there’s the aforementioned ‘Coca Sans Bulles’. We’re whistling, we’re whistling.

If there is a criticism, it’s that the album sags a little in the middle, with tracks such as ‘Toho’ and ‘Moteur Action’ veering dangerously into europop territory. But we’re being picky. With cuts like the dark, swirling, hypnotic chant of ‘Jeune Fille Garnement’ and the edgy, tip-toeing ‘Bouquet Final’ still to come, it’s a minor niggle.

The biggest triumph is that while Yelle admit they have little time for the analogue revival, preferring the plugin approach, ‘Complètement Fou’ is as warm and visceral as any analogue record. It is, as we’d say if we were French, trucs brillant putain.

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