Some try all their lives to record the new “Village Green” (The Kinks) or the new “Never mind the bollocks”‘ (The Sex Pistols). Popincourt would prefer a follow up to “Café bleu” (The Style Council). The project might seem less ambitious but it is certainly more original, probably more realistic and no less genuine for someone who has always been influenced by Paul Weller. A man not only attached to the heritage of Small Faces, The Herd, and The Jam, but one who also lives in the 21st century – without dismissing the 80s, or at least what remains worth listening in 2016, such as The Style Council therefore, Elvis Costello, XTC or Aztec Camera (the aerial guitars of ‘The Risk of losing you’ or ‘I found out’); the 90s and the touch of British jazz that the trumpets bring to ‘A new dimension to modern love’, acid jazz maybe, he would rather call it ‘Blue eyed soul’; the 2000s and a Burgalat production, full of vintage keyboards (wurlitzer, philicorda…) and sophisticated cords like on ‘The First flower of spring’.
Popincourt was created over several years. From the first bands in Rouen, Nantes, Bordeaux and Paris, before a formative exile to London, where he founded ‘les Hommes Responsables’ with Phil King, ex bass player of Lush and Jesus & Mary Chain, followed a return to France where he will collaborate with Perio and play the organ in concert with French Boutik. During all these years, the man himself had time to appreciate what makes a difference: an entire devotion to the verse/chorus/transition above and beyond technical virtuosity; the overall importance of melodies; the groove in the service of the songs, not the other way round. The repertoire is built over a decade. An unreleased EP to taste the water in 2013, before moving to the next level. A small team is formed with people met at concerts. Hervé Bouétard, the drummer of Bertrand Burgalat, is behind the drums . Ken Stringfellow on the bass following his time with the Posies, Big Star and R.E.M. Gabriela Giacoman, the singer of French Boutik, is doing the backing vocals. Sébastien Souchois, the composer of the soundtracks for ‘Candidat’ and ‘Mes amis, mes amours’, arranged the brass and supervises the production. Finally it is at the studios of Nicolas Dufournet, ex-business partner of Michel Gondry and Etienne Charry at the heart of Oui Oui, that the Popincourt’s album is recorded.
To sing about love stories is not always easy, but here is someone who has lived more than 25 years without succumbing to the model that so often makes French rock ridiculous. In fact he sings in English claiming “It is easier and more natural in terms of what I listen to”. A French album for the British maybe, but certainly not a revival album!
Christophe Loubes – cultural journalist @ Sud Ouest – March 10th, 2016