Nouvelle Vague

The mass popularity of Continental-cocktail versions of postpunk classics is more cinch than mystery — think about it: smart, sexy, resonant, and familiar. Do potions come any stronger than that? With Bande a Part, the fine-blended followup to the band's eponymous debut, Nouvelle Vague has concocted a long, tall drink of the night that just might beach its predecessor.

Actually it's as if the collective has brought the coast with it for a one-hour tour de force. Bunnymen ("The Killing Moon") and Buzzcocks ("Ever Fallen in Love") and Blondie ("Heart of Glass") and Bauhaus ("Bela Lugosi's Dead") all get a good lotioning-over, while less apparent slatherings from groups such as the Cramps ("Human Fly") and the Specials ("Friday Night Saturday Morning") go-go slow with swoon. Sure, some might argue that Nouvelle Vague is just a little too finely designed and a tad too finely stricken. Yet these days even the naysayers will admit it takes a keen-eyed look at the sound of things to strike so many hearts and minds. Nouvelle Vague is both new and renewed. And who can argue with that?

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