Audio Mixer: Raph Dumas.
Recording information: Valley Studio, Manchester.
Photographer: Olivier Metzger .
The Limiñanas arrived fully formed on their first single in 2009 and haven't strayed too far from their winning formula. Drummer Marie and bassist, guitarist, and organist Lionel established a unique sound derived from the pop of Serge Gainsbourg, the smoky sophistication of '60s film soundtracks, the lo-fi buzz of the Velvet Underground, and the melodic sweetness of the Jesus and Mary Chain right away, and their fourth album, Malamore, is built on this same framework. As with previous albums, part of the fun is seeing what they might add or subtract from the equation. Previous albums have added some acoustic folk elements, some arty drone, or a little bit of surfy twang, while welcoming an interesting array of guests. To the latter point, Malamore features guitarist Pascal Comelade on the bustling wah-wah-heavy song that closes the album,"The Train Creep A-Loopin," and ex-New Order bassist Peter Hook adds his trademarked bass sound to the loping ballad "Garden of Love." To the former, there isn't much experimentation this time around. The band sounds focused and tightly wound, the songs are punchy and hooky, and the side trips are kept to a minimum. Where past albums may have meandered a bit, creating atmospheric avenues to explore, Malamore hits the listener over the head with one perfect-sounding track after another. Uptempo rockers like "Dahlia Rouge" and the fierce title track are bound to inspire some goofy dance moves; the raging guitar workout "Zippo" will satisfy those who need six-stringed mayhem. Fans of cool, deadpan French pop will dig tracks like "Prisunic" and "The Dead Are Walking," which get their kicks without breaking a sweat. The songs that bring the intensity down a notch, like "Garden of Love," show off the duo's softer side without losing any of their edge. By the end, they add up to something really special. All their records to this point have been really strong; Malamore is where they make a grab for brilliance. ~ Tim Sendra