Lately I’ve been listening to some French Yé-yé music. If you’re uninitiated, Yé-yé is a style of pop music that came from Europe (mostly France) in the early 60s. It tends to be sunny and melodic, taking the skeleton of beat music and adding orchestration that seems perfect for sipping a cappuccino outside a café on a warm afternoon. I’ve been aware of Yé-yé music for years, but it’s clicked for me lately. One thing I like about it is that it’s pop music, but it has such a strong vibe. It’s great music to put on around the house, because if my attention drifts toward it, the strong melodies and dense orchestration hold my attention. However, if it’s serving as background music while I’m washing dishes or reading or tidying up, it gives me light, airy energy that propels me through the day.
French Swinging Mademoiselle, which compiles several singles by Clothilde, is the record that hooked me. “Fallait pas écraser la queue du chat” is the undeniable hit with its big melody, energetic rhythm, and best of all the zany, psychedelic organ riff that punctuates the song. However, the entire album is great, with an energetic, driving sound that strikes me as a little punky. Maybe that’s why it grabbed me?
Intrigued by Clothilde, I took home one of the France Gall reissues that just came out on Third Man Records. On Dominic’s recommendation I went with 1968, which I had my eye on anyway thanks to its cool, colorful artwork. The artwork captures the vibe of the music well. While I wouldn’t call it psychedelic in any meaningful sense of the world, it’s full of signifiers of the psychedelic sound like sitars and organs, and even has a song about LSD. Like the Clothilde record, there isn’t a bum track here.
Dominic has already played me a few things, but if anyone has more Yé-yé recommendations feels free to hit me up. I’m officially intrigued!