Nouvelle Vague – New Wave

Nouvelle Vague
New Wave

Nouvelle Vague has forgone doing lounge-version covers of well-known indie hits on New Wave. Instead, the band has curated a 2-disc collection of other bands doing covers. And the title of the album says it all. These are mostly 80s new-wave acts using synths and electronic beats instead of the original versions’ loud guitars and arena beats.

Rather than describe all 24 of the tracks, it would be better to describe the album as a whole. These tracks are for the most part quite minimal. I guess I had forgotten just how skeletal a lot of these acts really were — either that or these bands all decided to go reductionist when they chose to cover these songs. These are period pieces — recorded at the time the bands were active. Probably a lot of b-sides to their 12″ remixes of their hits or something.

The highlights of disc 1 include Gary Numan doing “On Broadway,” the ever-excellent Snakefinger doing Kraftwerk’s “The Model,” OMD doing Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man,” and The Stranglers doing “Walk On By.” Also on disc 1 you get, of course, Devo doing “Satisfaction,” but I think we’ve all heard this many times.

Disc 2 has an awesome version of Bowie’s “Fame” by Duran Duran (best track on the set!), The Slits with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” from their LP if memory serves, and the one out-of-place track “Sister Ray” from Joy Division. Putting Joy Division as the set’s closer seems an odd choice because its mood is so starkly different than most of the other tracks.

One big surprise was Elton Motello doing “Jet Boy Jet Girl,” a song I don’t think I’d ever heard before. Unfortunately, the liner notes (at least in the promo version) don’t provide any details on the original artists for any of these songs. “Jet Boy Jet Girl” is some kind of raveup, a bisexually frank S&M slice of provocation. I looked it up and it appears that this is not a cover version but instead it is an original that inspired many cover versions.

I was pleasantly surprised by Antenna’s “Boy From Ipanema,” an inversion of “Girl From Ipanema.” Its whimsical and well done.

The set offers a lot of new-wave variety and some head-slapping “oh yeah, I remember that” moments. It’s probably best for completists, but everyone’s bound to find a track or two to appreciate. And come on — Duran Duran was a great band early on, and “Fame” is a great track. And, by the way, it’s followed by Nico doing “Heroes,” as though we didn’t already know that Bowie was a major influence on new wave.