French pop music is known to be a little erratic. For every genius-like Serge Gainsbourg there is a disposable Europop dunce lurking in the background. Europop can be fun on summer holidays, but when you take the record home it is somehow not the same in a different setting, bereft of the sea and sunshine evidenced from a hotel balcony. To take an extreme example, “Macarena” (not French, but definitively Europop) is probably not something you’d play around the house, unless of course that house is a disco.
Le Common Diamond are a French space-pop duo who are making great strides in their home market after some extensive touring last year. Of course this means nothing in itself as big French acts can struggle in an international market (see Johnny Hallyday), but it may provide some hope taking into account the recent French pop history of Daft Punk, Air, and the more rocky Phoenix.
“Swedish Summer Dream” is Le Common Diamond’s second EP, mixed by Ash Workman (Metronomy) and Adrian Libeyre Ramirez (Mute Records), and it’s rather good. “After All” is futuristic synth pop with an element of funk and some interesting beats and percussion; it’s classy like Zero 7, but more poppy and fun. The blurb advises that Floran and Thomas make a lunar and organic music reflecting their desires, a longing for escape and freedom from routine, and that seems to more or less hit the nail on the head.
On “Scandinavia” the vocal (in English) sounds oddly like a French Liam Gallagher, full of Mancunian vowels. These dudes are from Toulouse in the south west of France, and I’m almost certain that Toulouse is nothing like Manchester (a lot less rain for a start). Perhaps the accent is a result of Oasis’ great success? The track is charming though; Scandinavia sounds exotic and exciting, although I think there’s something in the lyrics about being sent there for crimes of an unknown description. There has clearly been a mix-up with Australia – that’s where the convicts were sent.
“The Monster” mixes indie jangle, some clever electronic stuff and a Beach Boys style layered vocal; again, it’s fun kind of stuff. The title track, “Swedish Summer Dream”, has its foundation in a phat electro bass-line. Over the top there’s a melodious whistle and some swooping vocals, closing with a chilly warning — “winter is coming”. Despite this final caution, this track and the whole EP provide an indisputable dose of upbeat summer sunshine.