The title tells “It’s Gonna Hit,” but you never quite get the feeling that the music on Ça Va Cogner really does. The record, Feu Thérèse’s second (and final), is purposefully ambiguous, never quite providing a clear look as to what the group are attempting to express. It’s a work divorced not only from their lineage (last year’s self-titled and the corpus of Fly Pan Am, from whose dissolution Feu Thérèse formed) but also from their contemporaries; whereas it’s popular nowadays to cherry-pick aural expressions from entities of the electro past, Ça Va Cogner is entrenched wholly in them, with synthesizers and arpeggiators prominent throughout the mix. Who would’ve expected disco from a Constellation group?
So, why doesn’t it “hit”? At times, it’s difficult to tell if they’re laboring to reconfigure the past by evoking it so exhaustively, or, through the juxtaposition with current elements (for example, the atmospheric guitar work in “Visage Sous Nylon” and “Les Enfants” calls to mind many of their post-rockin’ labelmates), to do so to the present. Ça Va Cogner is unabashedly synthetic, but it’s also remarkably self-aware.
A prime instance of this self-awareness is to be found in the plodding “Le Bruit Du Pollen La Nuit” when the music cuts out to accommodate heavy, French spoken-word à la Serge Gainsbourg. It sounds contrived as all hell, and after hearing it one becomes mindful of how conscious Feu Thérèse are of their own kitsch. This isn’t an homage nor an accidental pastiche – this is alert irreverence with a shrug of the shoulders to the importance of past acts and a middle finger to contemporary artists that so willingly barricade themselves in with synthetic musical gestures. They may as well come out and say, “We know how bogus this all sounds, so why don’t you?”
The band tempts one to dance – and it’s difficult not to at times, especially when tracks like the neo-disco “Nada” basically transport one to the dance floor – and then the detached, precise arrangements sit back and judge as you make your decision. What tension! Fall for the idealistic, fake atmosphere of the album and let your body loose, or entertain your mental faculties and join the group in reappraisal of the past? To dance, or not to dance…
Even without all the mental exercise, Ça Va Cogner is still a propulsive, transporting listen. They’ve created their own little world with its own very peculiar atmosphere, and all-in-all it’s an entertaining experience.