Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation – The highs and lows of Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation (Everyday Life/Rocket Girl)
They’re French (and Scottish and Bolivian apparently), they’re a bit trashy, a bit glam, they sing in English, they’ve got class tunes.
‘Snowballs’ we’ve spoken of here before, a headrush of scratchy/jangly guitars and Drumming 101 with one of the most deeply pleasurable pop choruses of recent years.
‘It takes all sorts’ is cut from a similar cloth, a short, sharp punch to the head channelling VU and The Modern Lovers. There’s a tongue-in-cheek swagger to it which also recalls the spirit of Marc Bolan, although in this case more for the purposes of social comment than sexual celebration, you feel. The press release mentions “on the edge of clever and stupid” and a provocative dadaist gene runs through the album. A hilarious title like ‘Liberté, Fraternité, Galaxy’ says it all, as do remarks on pop tarts "kream" puffs.
Somehow, amongst the instant hooks and nods and winks they also manage to be quite a bit progressive. ‘El Dorado’ posits the conquistadores among a kosmische drone to brilliant effect. ‘Kream Puff’ takes a more sombre approach to relationships, a lovely louche rhythm built around a great interlocked bass/guitar sliding pattern.
Most of all ‘Walk in the park’, which brings a more serious demeanour to an eight-minute meditation on life (“surely life has got to be a walk in the park, not running a marathon”), amid a welter of pinging guitars and fizzing keys, rising and falling thrillingly, before settling into an irrepressible krautrock groove midway through.
I love this album. The band can obviously play - very well in fact - but the overriding impression is of dedication to a vision, a groove, a view of life even, not a wankfest. The songs are memorable, funny, groovy, pastiche and hommage thrown together with hummable melodies and forward-thinking arrangements. Pop music for the 21st century and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.