It’s rare that a debut comes through with such a clear vision, but the first full offering from L’Epee is hardly a green band tentatively offering up their first works out of the studio. The band is built from strong players, each with a history that both informs and in no way eclipses the music on Diabolique. The core of the band is Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown fame and Lionel and Marie Limiñana of The Limiñanas. The three have been working together on the past few Limiñanas releases and its clear that they’ve established a repoire, and understanding of where their strengths lie. They add in the smoke-strewn vocals of Emmanuelle Seigner, the French model/actress and singer for Ultra Orange. The combined forces of the four bring forth an almost immaculate incarnation of Velvets / Nico cool cross-bred with Ye-Ye pop impulses and it’s hard not to be immediately drawn into the pop web they weave.
The songs bounce from dark, leathered brooders, to scarf-wrapped Vespa soundtracks in an instant and both seem equally at home with one another. Seigner evokes a detached cool that’s hard not to palpably feel throughout the speakers and the backing band bends through her pop whims with ease and precision. There’s not a misplaced note on the album — all drawn from a studied history of ’60 pop provocateurs, but put together with a ‘from the hip’ looseness that belies the studied approach. The songs might feel almost like a perfect compilation, were it not for Seigner’s vocals tying them all together with a velvet sting of seduction and aloofness. It’s hard not to grapple with the term supergroup, though that’s a cumbersome label here and elsewhere, but the talent on deck here is pretty top tier and the resulting album gives credence to the term. Should this be a one-off, it should wind up a collector’s essential, but here’s hoping this is the start of something with legs.
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