For those whose grade school learnings have long been lost in a haze of smoke, the age old French mantra Bon Chic Bon Genre translates into Good Style Good Attitude. A ballsy title for any band’s debut release, especially for a Belgian outfit who is desperately trying to carve out a place amongst the British big boys.
This is even more of a daring assertion insofar as Campag Velocet plan on doing so by revamping the kings of cool who have come before. Rewind to 1990, post acid house sounds gave way to the ultra cool pop psychedelica that was the Madchester sound. Bands like Happy Mondays, Primal Scream and The Stone Roses ruled the land. However, this was more than a new musical direction, it was also, and perhaps more importantly, the birth of a new cool founded on a new style and a new attitude. As these sounds infectiously infiltrated the heads of the masses, trousers instantly expanded, jumpers were suddenly zipped to the hilt and a sauntry confident stagger coincidingly entered the posture of the youth. For those on the outside looking in, this, like all its predecessors, was nothing more than another fad whose death was both imminent and welcomed. For those walking the walk, and there were many, things would never be the same again. This was as cool as it gets and they knew it.
Cut to Europe 1999, the guitar driven nirvana that was the foundation of all things baggy has long since been buried by the hands of turntablists everywhere. Fact, change is both imminent and for the most part positive. Fact, regardless of the ardently opposing views of purists (cheers Liam), masterpieces of electronica do indeed exist. However, time has proven that no matter how cleverly one manipulates his computer, soulfulness and coolness are not emotions that can be tweaked. Campag Velocet’s Bon Chic Bon Genre reminds us of the time that technology has made us forget. Each of BCBG’s 11 tracks takes us on a diverse trip down memory lane. Dirty, distorted energizers reminiscent of Primal Scream and the Sex Pistols, wonderfully sloppy funk conjuring up vivid imagery of the Mondays in their prime and beautiful substance-induced atmospheric instrumentals, owing more than a nod to early Verve material all play vital roles in forcing us to embarrassingly conclude that no matter how fast our CPU, there is nothing quite as cool as four lads with guitars and attitude, a lesson we should have learned a decade ago. This is the soundtrack to the life you dream of living. Bon Chic Bon Genre? Most definitely!
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article