The Limiñanas’ Costa Blanca has all the suave simplicity, funky melodies and irresistible language of ’60s Ye-ye music. But the underground French-pop trio brings an irreverent modern edge to their third album, crossing borders between now and then and here and there to arrive somewhere nouveau.
The band, hailing from the south of France, appear to be just as influenced by American culture as they are by ’60s French artists like Serge Gainsbourg. This transcontinental, time-traveling stance makes way for some satisfyingly eclectic moments. In “Votre Cotre Yeye M’Emmerde,” for example, they nonchalantly list off in sultry French accents icons like Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, John Belushi and the rock and roll standard, “Louie, Louie,” amidst a hip throwback groove. “Cold Was The Ground,” begins with a vintage melody on an exotic sitar-like instrument, but suddenly breaks out into an arena-sized acoustic rock jam along the lines of Pulp’s “Sorted for E’s and Wizz.” Some of the songs have singing, while some are instrumentals with cool monologues that shift between English and French. This is the kind of sophisticated irreverence like that of The Velvet Underground’s work with Nico, that rattles and rocks the genre in which it is encased.
Even the most ardent Francophile may wonder: Is there any serious difference between Costa Blanca and the passé pop songs it takes after? That person has only to listen to “Alicante” for the answer. The song initially sounds like straightforward French-pop, but a radical aural event occurs just around the time it takes you to mislabel it as such. Guitar distortion begins to whine somewhere in the distance, growing louder, more blaring, until finally it’s shredding through the atmosphere. The noise gradually overpowers the whole song, taking its own wretched “solo” in which we’re left with nothing but this abrasive din for a good ten seconds. You may begin to feel uncomfortable, like the audio engineer who walked out on The Velvet’s lengthy recording of “Sister Ray,” until the band slowly fades back in and the distortion becomes a jarring form of accompaniment. Voila, la difference.