Much has been made of the fact that Cours Lapin are four well established Danish film score composers joined up to create a lilting album of pseudo-French fairytale music in the chanson tradition (sentimental with a special focus on the lyrics). Understanding the combined pedigree of Louise Alenius (vox), Asger Baden (keyboard), Peder (keyboard / producer) and Jonas Struck (guitar) shouldn’t really increase my appreciation of their self-titled debut but it does, because it’s not often I hear sultry, warm French-language pop that originated in a frigid Scandinavian clime.
You really would never know. Opening track ‘1,2,3’ is introspective, beguiling and gently ambling; Alenius’ breathy lyrics and sumptuous timbre the cherry on the icing. I can’t vouch for the quality of the lyrical content but you don’t need to be fluent to enjoy the carefully measured cadences and pronunciation of what, for most, is a seriously sexy language.
The sound of the album as a whole fluctuates between contemplative, as in ‘Blanc’ more playful as on ‘Ma Melodie’ and heart-wrenchingly sparse and sorrowful (‘Homme contre femme’). It’s certainly not an album that races through emotional peaks and troughs, though tracks such as ‘Le Son D’un Escargot; and ‘Cache Cache’ have a more jazzy nightclub feel to them, which is a nice change.
Yet this is a quartet who must traditionally used to their music being an accompaniment to moving image or having to conjure a very specific mood. It means that these 11 songs are all frighteningly adept at actually making you feel pat of their world, as though for the all-too-brief duration of the album you’ve been sitting in a smoky bar with a strong drink, watching the band perform in front of your eyes, Alenius herself strutting languidly around the audience with a feather boa and black stockings. It is an effortlessly vivid album.
Conversely, this is an album whose pace, mood and flawlessly restrained instrumentation you have to surrender to. It’s an approach that asks you to summon your own visuals, or risk wishing there was an actual accompanying film to set it all off.
It’s a real niche that Cours Lapin have filled with a fully realised and beautiful album. Whether their follow up continues the same theme or (even more hopefully) inhabits another musical tradition, their debut is something special: a melodic, wilfully single-minded oddity in an era of mainstream-pandering fusion. Magnifiqué.