Lille. Eurostar? Yes. Football? Yes. 90s inspired electronic three piece? Not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when we’re talking about the French city, no. But this brand of Nintendo-pop is very much alive and well in north-eastern France, and comes in the shape of We Are Enfant Terrible.
Explicit Pictures marks the first full release from the young group which comprises two lads, one young lady, and some grand plans involving sonic (the hedgehog) influences from brightly coloured childhood days, as well as some darker electronic undertones. Opening track ‘Make You Laugh’ launches us straight into this style, with a stripped back ode to a potential love interest, with singer Clo Floret listing the ways in which she’d need to change in order to attract her suitor. The overall feel and melody of the song harks back to the early days of Soulwax (well, Lille and Belgium are neighbours, I suppose) with its slightly offbeat chord progressions and leading synth sound. Track one slips nicely into the poetically titled ‘Filthy Love’, a catchy little number which picks up the pace of the album after a relatively downbeat opener.
By third track ‘Lobster Quadrille’, we’re delving into the deepest, darkest depths of the synth presets of this group’s equipment. It’s one of the faster moments on the album, and one which carries a feel that’s fairly representative of the group’s peppy live shows. In fact, throughout the whole record, there’s a sense that these songs would be really interesting when played live, but that in places, the desired effect of the songs hasn’t transferred to record very well. At times, the songs on this album can feel a bit unilateral and the lack of a bass can really be felt, as there’s no real depth to the sound. Live, with throbbing bass, these tracks would be twice as effective at commanding attention, and making you sidle ever closer to the dance floor. That said, the synthetic elements of the songs are nicely put together, well structured and at times, really quite impressive. ‘Sick Crooner’ is an example of this group knitting together frenetic synth patterns, a slightly a-tonal melody and Floret’s lulling vocals in a really striking, really interesting way.
The full album is a little bit slower in general pace than was expected following their live reputation and previous releases, but there’s certainly no loss of energy. The choice of speed for the songs could be attributed to a maturing of sound, and aside from the slightly acidic beeping backdrop, this album is really well made with varying textures, sentiments and styles. A track which stands out by miles is ‘Wild Child’ which has the definite potential to send festival crowds crazy this summer, with its 90s rave synth sound and stories of hedonistic antics.
By the end of this record, the little computer noises can get pretty annoying, detracting from the points which make this record good. The programming and the composition of the tracks is interesting, and the lyrics are playful and light. There are some definite ‘indie disco hits’ to be found on this record, from a band that are blending the French adoration of electronic music with rock influences, with emotion and with teenage tales. Explicit Pictures is at its best when it loses any self-consciousness it might have possessed, and loosens up. As a debut, it’s fine, but I think this band’s best work is yet to come.