Several years ago Vancouver grassroots studio-meister Colin Stewart (Cave Singers, Black Mountain, Destroyer) got hold of a pair of vintage plate reverbs - as used to produce the distinctive sound of the late 50s and early 60s Motown and 'Brill Building' classics. Those lush productions were enhanced by injecting the original sound into large metal sheets and picking up the reverberations to merge into the mix. With a nice piece of kit begging for a sympathetic project, Stewart teamed up with singer/songwriter Nick Krgovich to source a couple of appropriate tunes. As befitting the spirit of the era, these were laid down in single takes in one night by a group of friends and fellow travellers at the Hive Studios. The buzz generated that night then inspired a series of sessions and new songs from a collection of artists (e.g. Owen Pallett, Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls) over the next few years. Finally they see the light of day under the name of Gigi
.The first few listens may yield a degree of reluctant unease. It's cruel but inevitable to make comparisons with the peerless rhythm section of the Funk Brothers, the orchestration of Bacharach, the perfect simplicity of a Carol King couplet. The brass is perky but wobbly and the male singers in particular come across as weak in an under the weather Dent May sort of way. So, well meaning but flawed pastiche? Well flawed - yes, but it's precisely a certain 'band next door' charm and obvious love for the original period that takes a hold and proceeds to sustain this album through to becoming a genuinely endearing listen. Atmosphere (that'll be the reverb) is layered on top of the spontaneous recordings in spades and makes all the difference. You end up actually enjoying some of those flaws. And when they nail it, like the heart melting lingering harmonies of the second half of Pallett's 'I'll Quit Calypso' or Katie Eastburn's smouldering 'Girl From Ipanema' meets Dusty Springfield vocals on 'The Marquee', the results stand alongside those multi-million sellers.The bobby-socked, shooby-doing, and finger clicking girl group tunes float by the most joyfully and of course you won't have to wait much more than three minutes if any one song does grate - with fifteen tracks you're still getting value for money. In addition to the sounds, the lyrics too have an eye for period detail to foster the conceit - old tunes are referenced playing on jukeboxes and dates are still stood up without any explanation when a quick text would have been handy but ruined the storyline. Maintenant
is all about working within a much respected framework and basking in the comforting loveliness of it all. It really is too much fun to put down, in both senses of that phrase. Swoon. You know you want to.
Buy the album from Maintenant | [itunes link="http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ill-quit-with-owen-pallett/id350332210?uo=4" title="Gigi - Maintenant" text="iTunes"]