Why Jarvis Cocker and Wes Anderson have never properly collaborated before can only be due to an issue with the dates in their leather bound Filofaxes failing to match up rather than any kind of lack of enthusiasm. The pair have much in common, not least their fondness for a snappy suit as well as a dedicated vision revolving around a certain era. Anderson’s own take might be based around nailing a certain retro corner of the Pantone colour chart and Cocker’s with making librarian chic great again, but both have always been the kind of gent that has a ‘thing with the 1960s’.
Though ‘Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top’ isn’t the official soundtrack to Anderson’s latest movie, The French Dispatch – instead billed as a ‘companion piece’ – this isn’t just for Wes completists only. Instead, this collection of 12 cover versions of classic French pop tunes from the 1960s and 1970s sees Cocker embrace his love for a style of music that has never really had its proper dues in the UK, largely due to the simple matter of a language barrier. But such is Cocker’s sensitive interpretation, a GCSE in French definitely isn’t a prerequisite for enjoyment. The slow burning strings of ‘Amour, Je Te Cherche (originally performed by Nino Ferrer & Radiah) and Cocker’s own aching delivery tell us all we need to know – this is a man in a satin smoking jacket looking for some action, or, at the very least, a very large glass of red wine and a packet of 20 Gauloises to keep the cold out of a chilly Parisian evening.
‘Il Pleut Sur La Gare’ (originally performed by Brigitte Fontaine and Areski Belkacem) offers more moodiness, with Cocker’s Sheffield-by-way-of-Montmartre and some fabulously bored sounding female backing vocalists placing it in a marvellously murky world stalked by the likes of Baxter Dury. Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier sparkles in ‘Paroles, Paroles’ (originally performed by Dalida and Alain Delon), Cocker perfect as a whispering cad who’s promising the world.
He gets to fully delve into sleaze worthy of Pulp’s ‘This Is Hardcore’-era on a breathy, thrusting version of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Requiem Pour Un Con’ while funkier tracks, like Cocker’s take on Jacques Dutronc’s proto-punk shakedown ‘Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous’ inject some wild party spirit into the mix.
The heroically lavish ‘Aline’ (originally performed by Christophe) is the only song from ‘Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top’ to actually feature on The French Dispatch soundtrack, Cocker knowingly giving his performance some extra wallop for the big screen. As ‘companion’ albums go, this is one we’re happy to hear long after the credits roll.
- Release date: October 22
- Record label: ABKCO Music & Records