Le Pop En Duo is the third in a series of Le Pop compilations of modern French music from the Cologne based Le Pop Musik . This time out the entire compilation is made up of duets between French artists, and they've even started to branch out to include some French Canadians. Following the Jane Birkin duet album Rendez-Vous in 2004 and Benjamin Biolay's duet album Home with his wife Chiara Mastroianni - Le Pop En Duo continues in the tradition of the Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin duets with wonderful results. The duets are a great way to hear twice as many French artists, so not only can you hear the stars you already like, you can investigate ones you haven't yet heard.
Opening track Raisonnable has Pierre Bondu who has worked with Dominique A, Katerine and Francoiz Breut, singing here with Julie B. Bonnie on a bouncy duet with a big band jazz feel meets The Sugarcubes.
An orchestral introduction to Tout Va Bien belies the loungey duet between Pascal Parisot and Frederique Dastrevigne with bird chirps, wah wah guitar, celeste and a laidback groove. It takes awhile for the female vocals to come in and at times they almost seem more like backing vocal (as do some of the other tracks which seem to center on the male vocalist at times).
L'Histoire de Espions is a soundtrack tune from Celine Aril's Du Pic Au Coeur which has harder edged guitars and a mysterious feel that anchors this repetitious duet between Jerome Miniere and Karine Vanasse.
Stefie Shock has been doing his own thing in Canada for a few years now, with two amazing albums under his belt - so it's a relief to see that his talent is finally getting picked up with this awesome duet called Les Averses with Suzie McLellan from his 2nd album Le Décor (from 2003). It's a shame it's taken this long for Stefie Shock to appear on a compilation (and this is the first time) since he's been making waves in Canada for awhile now.
Chiara Mastroianni is an actress and the daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve. She married Benjamin Biolay recently and the two of them together recorded the stunning duet album called Home from which the exquisite Folle De Toi is taken. Folle De Toi has languid Beatlesque guitar and hushed vocals between Chiara and Benjamin.
Elle Aime is a cabaret styled duet between Albin De La Simone and Feist taken from Albin's self title album from 2003. The piano really brings out the vulnerability in the two voices and luckily Canadian singer Feist is able to tackle the tune OK, considering she sings it phonetically in French (she mainly sings in English on her own).
Katerine and Erin Moran (aka A Girl Called Eddy, who has worked with Richard Hawley from Pulp and the Longpigs and who recently opened up for Keren Ann) give us Parlez-Vous Anglais, Mr. Katerine? which is a nice, lighter counterpoint to the previous tune. This track originally appeared on Montecarlo, an Elefant Records compilation.
Sebastien Martel and Camille give us the more folk beat set on their duet Dumb VF, something that Karen Ann fans might enjoy.
Jane Birkin and Mickey 3D have an ethnic styled rhythm with a strummed guitar and an accented beat on their duet called Je M'Appelle Jane. This track can be found on Jane's album full of duets with the likes of Caetano Veloso, Bryan Ferry, and Etienne Daho called Rendez-Vous from 2004.
Toma and Api are one of the few artists with a thoroughly modern beat on L'Amour a la Plage, but the acoustic guitar gives it a modern blues feel.
M and Celine's duet J'Ai Une Pensee reminds me of something the British band Black Box Recorder would do - sung in French (Black Box Recorder do have the song French Rock 'n' Roll on The Facts Of Life).
Veruca Salt et Frank Black is a bit busy vocally because there's actually Vincent Delerm, Keren Ann and Dominique A. all singing together, but the piano really does wonders for this simple French ballad.
Veruca Salt et Frank Black leads perfectly into the cover of the Frank Sinatra/Nancy Sinatra duet Something Stupid - sung in French by Jeanne Cherhal and Albin De La Simone.
Dominique A. and Francoiz Breut have worked together a lot and their duet Le Twenty-Two Bar is actually an early Dominique A. release from 1995. It's got some hyper scrubbed guitars and Dominique A.'s warble, while Francoiz takes her time coming in and sounds like a lass from the Ye Ye era.
We end with Jeanne Cherhal again - this time joined by Jacques Higelin on the plaintive and beautiful Je Voudrais Dormir.