RINOÇÉROSE: Music Kills Me

Music Kills Me
V2 Records

It would be too easy to slag the second long-player by this heady French house-rock duo as derivative tripe for folks who consider themselves impossibly chic. Certainly Rinôçérôse could be the illegitimate love child of France's most buzzy dance-pop exports, Air and Daft Punk. Samples are studied and lifted with love from Sixties-era vinyl. Electric guitars slash through the dance-floor hauteur in just the right spots. And there's a prevailing air of steely cool. Rinôçérôse--more so than its contemporaries--make music perfect for posing, and for that reason, the husband-and-wife team of Jean-Philippe Freu and Patou Carrie have been written off for being too damn fashionable. (It doesn't help that the pair look as if they sauntered off the pages of French Vogue.)

But fashion has strutted into the conscience of even the most middlebrow American thanks to Jennifer Lopez's Versace-sponsored stripteases. Daft Punk modeled jeans for the Gap--the ultimate proletarian fashion statement. And trend-conscious Sarah Jessica Parker tiptoes around Manhattan to the strains of Groove Armada in the opening credits of Sex and the City.

So it makes sense that Freu and Carrie's 1999 debut album, Installation Sonore, is a by-the-numbers, house-derived declaration to make a scene. Yet Music Kills Me makes good on the pair's assertion that they're really just a rock band enamored with--among other genres--dance music, much in the same way the trend-conscious Brit-pop acts of the late Eighties/early Nineties (chiefly the Stone Roses) were. Installation Sonore is the embodiment of what fashion actually is: dictation by out-of-touch designers and magazine editors. Music Kills Me is how fashion should be: unbridled individualism and an interpretation of ideas.

To that end, Music Kills Me is a patchwork of the duo's references and a memorable juxtaposition of countless styles. Arena-worthy riffs? They're kick-starting the opening track, "Le Rock Summer," before the song spirals into uptempo disco. Small Faces modernism? There's a snatch of Steve Marriott, the Faces' leader, haunting the heavenly "Résurrection d'une Idole Pop." Scratchy electro-blues as in Moby? The title track somehow manages to touch on this while, underneath, a dri-ving guitar line recalls Robert Palmer's homage to catwalk queens, "Simply Irresistible." And if that's not impossibly chic, what is?

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