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Taken from The Arts Desk (Aug 30, 2019)

CD: Caravan Palace - Chronologic review

Easy-going fourth album from French dance popsters moves further from their origins

by Thomas H Green

Music for pop Cybermen
Music for pop Cybermen

Parisian outfit Caravan Palace have now had a career that's lasted over a decade. They've not busted the British charts open (although they have had hit albums in France), but they've long been festival favourites with multi-millions of YouTube plays, and their UK profile has never been higher. Their new album dials back the manic dancefloor energy they sometimes emanate, yet succeeds as a wittily constructed, summery, electronic dance-pop concoction.

Caravan Palace have long been associated with electro-swing, a style reviled by hipsters but enjoyed by multitudes of festival-goers

Caravan Palace have long been associated with the dance music sub-genre electro-swing (a mash-up of swing jazz and club beats), an easily accessible style reviled by hipsters but enjoyed by multitudes of festival-goers. Yet as their career has continued their recorded music has moved ever further from any obvious iteration of this sound. Their fourth album takes another step sideways, dripping shaded hints of Benny Goodman-esque brass here and there but mostly exploring other territories.

The default setting is a woozy, pop-Balearic bubbliness that on the tracks "Plume" and "Fargo" tinges into actual contemporary, Autotuned chart-pop stylings, especially the former which could be an offcut from Katy Perry's Witness album. Elsewhere they have a jolly crack at mixing their schtick with LA-style post-hip hop on "Leena" which mixes Colotis Zoe's sweet vocals with chopped around snippets of beats, vocal samples and woodwind.

There is still plenty of bounce. Tom Bailey (no relation of Eighties behemoths The Thompson Twins) sings on the euphoric finger-clicking "Waterguns" and "About You" is feisty electro-pop with female attitude ("Well, I'm a big girl with cash and wheels/I'm taller than you when I don't wear heels"), although things do occasionally descend into the cheese department, as on "Supersonics". But there's not too much of that, instead revelling in a light sonic playfulness so that the listener is left with the sense of an ear-pleasing tuneful pop frolic.

Below: Watch the video for "Plume" by Caravan Palace


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