A “loon” is a melancholic aquatic bird, who lives by the lake shores in Northern countries, though it’s a name as well for “mad hatter”: it’s enough with a quick listen to any of the songs in their excellent repertoire to guess which meaning do they prefer.
Since they began to play together, back in February 1993, this young trio has developed a delicate, intimate style, directly inspired in the golden age of British indie-pop of the late eighties: in the bands on Sarah Records and, above all, Cherry Red; in MARINE GIRLS, Momus or HIT PARADE... Fans of THE FIELD MICE, their smart use of electronics brings about a contrast among programmed rhythms and synthesizers, and the sweetness of the voices and acoustic guitars (though they also like electric, distorted guitars, as on “Listeners”, but always played moderately).
After including the song “Wednesday” on the compilation “Elefant Radio”, which came along with the summer issue of Spiral magazine, we have “Loons” at last, the first CD by these shy Parisians who, along with SPRING, Katerine or LIGHTHOUSE, represent the most distinguished side of French pop.
“Wednesday” is the most danceable song in the record. Close to PET SHOP BOYS’ electro-pop, it changes the hedonism of the latter for the sensibility and introspection of our dearly loved FAMILY. Nevertheless, in spite of this, or the STEREOLAB-like crescendo of “Some Lunatic”, the keynote of the album is much more restful: fragile guitar arrangements and caressing keyboards, whispered vocals and Erwan and Caroline’s voices overlapping, answering each other as on “Settled Ice”.
LOONS debut passes along without much noise, as a light breeze which leaves behind an indelible sediment of soft melancholy. Listening to this record feels like a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the rain behind the windows, remembering long past summers. Nostalgia for the best moments of childhood, as suggested by the cheerful schoolyard noises which adorn the serene sadness of “Cressant Cakes”: a wonderful punch line for a superb, moving record.