Les Tres Bien Ensemble - Doux Amer

(ELE1117: 8428846211176)

Everything started back in January 97, when Suzette met Philippe after a show by her former band (ME DUELE EL CORASSON). They both discovered they shared their passion for the elegance and seduction of the best French pop, from Michel Polnareff to Katerine, and of course of the unbeatable Serge Gainsbourg and his cast of fragile and/or perverse female partenaires (France Gall, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot). It was a matter of time that they would end up forming a band together, a band in which, of course, all the songs would be sung in French.

The name of the band was an obvious quote from the song “Michelle”, by some band called THE BEATLES: “Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble", sang McCartney. The band's line-up was complete with Michel and Jacques.

Back when they started, their repertoire was composed basically by cover versions: songs by the great Gainsbourg like “L´anamour” -made popular too by the unique Françoise Hardy-, and “Les Sucettes”. They also borrowed other jewels from Katerine - “Samba des jours benis” and “Le plus beau jour de ma vie”- and they often closed their shows with another classic tune, “La poupée qui fait non” by Michel Polnareff, another one of the great French composers. However, in their concerts they keep including more and more of their self-penned songs, as “Je veux étre un symbol sexuel” or “La fille la plus douce du monde”, both written by Suzette. Besides the great songwriters and sexy voices we have already mentioned, other inspirations for their own songwriting are nouvelle vague's soundtracks, as well as Brazilian bossanova.

After a short stop, due specially to the enormous success experienced by LOS FRESONES REBELDES, one of Michel and Philippe's side-projects, LES TRÈS BIEN ENSEMBLE start rehearsing again and return to gig in January 1999, sharing stage with Spanish underground stalwarts HELLO CUCA and THY SURFIN' EYES -who also feature Michel on their line-up, talking 'bout hyperactivity!-. A little later a new member joins, Paul from 60's revival band LOS SOBERANOS, taking charge of organ and keyboards. With this new line-up they debut at legendary Barcelona venue Sidecar. A tape with the recording of that show arrives to the Elefant Records headquarters, and the band is immediately signed. Very soon they record their first record, four songs (the two own tracks we have already mentioned, plus the known versions of “L´anamour” and “Les Sucettes”) that are released in July as both a vinyl single and a CD-Single. Both formats are now sold out and sought out among collectors.

Their Madrid debut takes place on September 18th, at a tribute show to Serge Gainsbourg where they play along with LOS CARAMELOS and THE GLITTER SOULS. They couldn't play much more after this, since Suzette moved to France for some time.

As an anecdote, by the end of 1999 a Japanese online store (Syft Records) chose their CD-Single as one of the month's selected choices, giving its customers the chance to listen to its songs online. On the other hand, “La fille la plus douce du monde” is chosen by the audience in the year polls of the “Disco Grande” show on Spanish National Radio 3 as one of the best songs from 1999.

In March 2001 they release a new single featuring a version of an original by Brigitte Bardot (“Ça pourrait changer”) and three new songs of their own, where the bossanova influences are more visible. Michel is not in the band anymore, after having left the group shortly before the recording started. In November that year, the band plays the support slot for American band THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR. Finally, on February 23rd 2002 they played the Mini Pop Festival in Barcelona, along with SING-SING, VACACIONES, THE RELICT, ORLANDO and others. The new line-up features Lucien Bulles (also guitar player in BUBBLES) on keyboards and Serge Clavier (CURIOUS LANE) on drums.

"I like all chords, although I feel specially close to A Major, but this depends on the season. All chords are good if they are placed correctly". These words come from Suzette, main songwriter and cozy singer fronting LES TRÈS BIEN ENSEMBLE, a francophile, francophone, Barcelona-based band who make good taste and elegance taken from their French pop models a reason for their existence. As if she were one of the muses idolized by her hero Serge Gainsbourg, Suzette knows how to sing and perform sounding sexy, or childish, or both things at the same time. In the jazzy and swinging "Ne lui dis pas à Maman", that closes this album as a bonus track, she pays tribute to Edith Piaf and the oldest job in the world: "I feel a deep respect for such a job as the prostitution. I like those girls. I often think it's my frustrated vocation. (...) Many times I have felt like I am one of them, something my mother should never know! She wouldn't understand". The inner reflections of a Lolita from the new century, who will nevertheless dedicate another song on the same album ("Les Vacances") to the hormonal awakening that happens in those first summers from the teenage years, with a ye-ye melody inspired in France Gall (laughing and giggling included).

But we have started by the end part. The record starts with a beautiful instrumental intro, a postcard sent from the bohemian streets of Montmartre and the aesthetics of the movies by Jacques Tati, to immediately pay the first direct tribute to Gainsbourg, a splendid song dedicated to Suzette's mother (Hélène) which follows the formula of the male voice -in this case, Philippe- answering the fragile female voice, and features as well some excellent string arrangements in the best tradition of the late Michel Colombier. "Gronde moi", the next track, is dedicated consequently to Suzette's father, with a 50's atmosphere that's decorated with the brushes and the old guitar sound. This love for 50's music is confirmed in another of the tracks on this album, "En attendant Raskolnikov", a happy update of the doo-wop sound, but the overall album's sound is obviously rooted in the 60's classic recordings, with those exuberant orchestral arrangements which seem as if they had been commissioned to a soundtrack arranger from those golden years. In fact, on the recording they have used analogic material, valve equipment and a lot of pacience in order to recreate this classic sound and transport it forward to our time, bearing a new contemporariness.

Following the song list on this album, "La Poupée" is a happy and childish song which features a steel guitar, whilst "Toi et moi" has a blue-eyed soul feeling and also reminds us of LOVE, as well as other label mates such as CAMERA OBSCURA or the early LE MANS, starts with a pre-psychedelic, baroque organ arrangement that takes us back to THE LEFT BANKE, and has a violin arrangement that could have been penned by BELLE & SEBASTIAN. Good references, indeed.

Folk-pop à la Françoise Hardy, the other column where they mark their efforts along with the ever present Gainsbourg, appears in "Sous le soleil", whispered to one's ears with flute mellotron arrangements and the atmosphere of a soft erotic movie (not in vain Suzette participated not long ago in a covers compilation, singing the main theme to "Emmanuelle"). "Les Tigresses" reveals the Spanish residence of the band with a sound that seems planned by Don Augusto Algueró himself, and right before the end we find the perfect way to close a record with the accordingly titled crescendo of "C'est fini", where we find our Lolita waving goodbye with this repetition: "Adieu mon petit, bon courage". We would rather reply: "See you soon, little girl. Come back soon with more of your beautiful songs. Au revoir".


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