Alizée - Gourmandises
For those not in the know Alizée is the young pop prodigy of one of France’s biggest musical icons Myléne Farmer and record producer Laurent Boutonnat. You may well remember her brief success here in England with the release of Moi... Lolita, a cheeky little slice of Euro-pop tabooness. Although barely reaching the top10 in the UK (which isn’t bad considering it’s all in French), the song was a huge success over most of Europe, as were her follow up singles L’Alize and Parler Tout Bas.
Gourmandises (which means sweets) is the appropriately titled debut album from Alizée. Appropriate because just like that famous quote from Forrest Gump regarding a box of chocolates “you never know what you’re gonna get”. After the smash hit Moi... Lolita is out the way, Lui ou Toi follows with amazingly the exact same basic chord structure as the song before. This is a tad rich in itself but Moi... Lolita’s backing track already sounds suspiciously like another 90’s pop hit which I won't bother naming. Once Alizée is fully content with borrowing other artists music unashamedly using it on more than one occasion, she gets us all questioning her scruples in J.B.G claiming she wants to be a James Bond Girl over the top of a reworking of the famous Bond score. Then just when you’re settling into the groovy Eurovision campness of it all she hit’s you with an absolute sucker punch with Mon Maquis, a song so brooding it could pass as a Tricky production. From its Arabic opening to Alizée’s whispering vocals to an ending reminiscent of a lite Nine Inch Nails, the song is real class almost making the album worthy of a purchase on its own merit.
We’re immediately thrown into the obligatory pop power balled with Parler Tout Bas which is impossible to dislike thanks to Alizée’s sweet voice and the romanticized French language. We get a more mature pop offering in Veni Vedi Vici which turns out to be one of the strongest songs on the album. Then Alizée sets out to baffle her Anglo audience once again with Abracadabra. You’d be forgiven for thinking she’s just run over a cat on her push bike judging by the repeated sound of what appears to be one rolling around in pain. Never fear though, Alizée appropriately comforts the poor thing by repeatedly whispering the word Abracadabra! Title track Gourmandises offers up some more top Euro-pop goodness even if the lyrics are some what dubious and the slow balled A Quoi Réve Une Jeune Fille rounds off the album leaving us wondering what half of it was all about.
To be honest though I can’t help but be charmed by Alizée. She has an incredibly soothing and deeply enchanting voice and while her follow up album may be far more mature and accomplished, it’s hard not to admire the adolescent fantasizing so authentically captured in Farmers lyrics and so elegantly executed in Alizée's vocals. Gourmandises is a pleasant and consistent pop offering in an adorable little French style by an adorable little pop prodigy. Even though it plays safe (with the exception of the previously mentioned Mon Maquis which still has me baffled as to how such a brooding song ended up on this album), there’s enough ballads and catchy Euro-pop tunes to keep most cheese nibblers content.