PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Les Petits Sous: The John Hughes Project (Le Projet de John Hughes)

Ben Varkentine
Les Petits Sous

The John Hughes Project (Le Projet de John Hughes)

Label: Le Projet de John Hughes
US Release Date: 2001-07-28
Amazon
iTunes

Okay, there's something I've been wanting to get off my chest for two or three reviews now. It applies to Les Petits Sous, so I'm sticking it at the beginning of their review, but they're certainly not the only ones or even the worst offenders. So here goes. A message to new bands: When designing your web site . . . don't . . . get . . . too . . . cute. Your site shouldn't just be a receptacle for a bunch of pictures of the band that might be fun to show your friends but are essentially insubstantial. There should be more information about you on the site than just the name of your CD, the songs on it, and where they can be downloaded/purchased. I say this not just as a critic who tries very hard to research his reviews as best he can and be as well-informed on the bands he writes about as possible, but as a member of the general public. Also, understand that those whose sites have pop-up ads will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes (PopMatters isn't getting any, are we Sarah?).

A three-piece band (Aaron, Claudia, and Alley) formed in New York earlier this year, Les Petits Sous set themselves the task of making "a soundtrack for a John Hughes movie that never was." Which is no small thing to be -- Hughes's soundtracks to films like Some Kind Of Wonderful were oases of "modern rock" in the desert of Klymaxx, Patti LaBelle, Michael McDonald, Eddie Murphy(!) and Survivor.

For the most part, they succeed. Songs like "Your Big Brown Eyes", "The Palace of Stars" and "You Are the Coolest" sound like a cross-pollination of the white noise of Jesus And Mary Chain, and the tight exciting playing of OMD (on those couple of tracks where they turned down the keyboards and let guitars soar, granted) with lyrics of love/hate for the old schools delivered with a sense of humor. In writing and performance alone, it is easy to picture these songs fitting in between the unfamiliar groups (Flesh For Lulu, Lick the Tins, Psychedelic Furs . . . ) Hughes used to bring to the early "alternative" audience.

Now, Les Petits Sous could use a couple of things, like more polished production (what are Steven Hague, Flood--a little sonic collage never hurt anyone--or Steve Lillywhite doing these days..) and a more interesting rhythm section and/or drum machine programming. But given their apparent affection for teenage fixation, in some ways it's appropriate that their music should be so raw at the moment The angst and self-doubt of such feelings are rarely that polished or interesting (to anyone except the adolescent having them) themselves.

Speaking of angst and self-doubt, one couldn't accuse Les Petits Sous of being immodest. Their idea of hyping themselves is to write things like (quoting a recent e-mail) "we're not trying to write anything more than simple, sing-a-long pop songs, that are about strumming some chords and going with the first melody that comes into your head." This half-apologetic attitude is really not necessary -- Les Petits Sous have very little to be half-apologetic about -- although I admit it's rather more charming than the two or three hype sheets I get each month assuring me that each new band is the next big thing, misunderstood geniuses all.

Still, much as I might like to believe otherwise, casting back to '80s pop is probably still not that hip (one Michael Jackson cover on the modern rock charts doth not a trend make). A CD like The John Hughes Project is the fulfillment of some of my dreams, but I have to wonder if it has anything to say to the 15-year-olds of today, the generation for whom a high school movie is Can't Hardly Wait. But the group seems to know this. "You are the coolest" ends with a catalog of cool, as Alley and Claudia list off people they want to be like, mostly glitter-pop icons such as David Bowie, Debbie Harry and Marc Bolan, though Iggy Pop sneaks in there too. They acknowledge the datedness of their sources with the last line "Don't want to live for today, I want to live for yesterday."

Les Petits Sous belong on the soundtrack to Some Kind of Wonderful 2: Keith and Watts in New York Readers should suit themselves as to whether that sounds like something they want to hear. But you know where I'll be. Alone, dancing, you know it baby.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.