The Villejuif Underground


The road to Villejuif’s last record came via a long since obscured and by now largely forgotten indie out of Australia by Camperdown and Out. The band’s lone Popfrenzy LP was a slacker joyride lead by the unfussed grizzle of Nathan Roche. It was a brief candle that was snuffed by circumstance when Roche jumped ship on Australia and headed for France. Once there, though, he cobbled a crew of shoestring slingers that injected the original Camperdown spirit with a dose of Beat Happening clatter and even more leathered laconic sneer. Roche, in his compulsion for geographical puns, dubbed the band Le Villejuif Underground, after the Parisian neighborhood they called home, but the band echoes more than a little of the aloof indignance of their more famous VU forbears.

Though, it must be said, Villejuif is far from Avant and hardly Art Rock. The band is the aural embodiment of a duct taped bass and a Korg with a stuck key. They’re dirt rock and loving it. The sophomore album only embraces this aesthetic further – celebrating backpacking trips, haunted castles, scenes and subscenes all with the mumbled grace of a Stereopathic-era Beck four gins deep. There’s a sense that The Villejuif Underground are both excellent and terrible party guests – they crack effortless jokes and know everyone in the room, but come morning there are limes in the toilet tank and at least one of them wore your slippers home after pelting onlookers with their own shoes from the balcony.

There’s a hipswung grace to When Will The Flies in Dauville Drop?. Roche is convening at the corner of Vaudeville and Bowery (circa ’77) – a poet laureate for the torn t-shirt all-nighters among us. The album burns quick, but the smoke lingers long into the next morning, stuck like hangover cottonmoth to the wrinkles of your brain. With their second LP, the band proves its more than just a whim and already outpacing Camperdown’s legacy.

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