Margo: Furtives Furies
Chez Moi

Influenced by the likes of Jane Birkin, Lali Puna, Autechre, and Sonic Youth, the French pop duo Margo (one-time art students and romantic partners Jean-François Le Coq on electronics and guitars and Melanie Massons on keyboards and vocals) updates its ‘80s synth-pop machine music with glitchy treatments emblematic of current electronic trends. Furtives Furies, Margo's follow-up to its 2002 debut The Catnap (and a subsequent remix album featuring contributions from Broker/Dealer, Schneider TM, Styrofoam, and others) often embraces a frothy electropop style driven by strutting beats, arcade synths, and breathy vocals (“Furies,” “Today,” “Vue du ciel”) with Massons alternating between French and English in a bright and innocent hush that sometimes recalls Julee Cruise and Donna Regina. Adopting a slightly different approach, the electro-house number “1 2 3” is inflamed by a lean techno vibe with Massons' more monotone delivery a welcome contrast to the other song's more girlish sound. Still, this general upbeat style isn't the group's most successful.

The duo's forte lies in a gentler type of chanson where their natural selves are exposed more nakedly—“Les nuages,” with its serene music box melodies and the sweetly charming “L'ennui” cases in point. The melancholy reverie of the downtempo “Space Summer” in particular impresses with Massons' vocals exhibiting an appealing vulnerability, while “Paradis” is perhaps the album's finest moment. The song's ballad style suits her vocal strengths perfectly, making for an affecting and graceful performance. The album closer, the equally melancholy “Regrets,” is as effective, with its mournful mood reinforced by Le Coq's crying guitars. A hidden track ends the collection in lulling manner, with Massons' soft voice caressed by the melodic fragments of a tinkling music box.

The album has its flaws—Margo goes overboard on the chopped voice effects and, at sixty-one minutes, the album's slightly long for the genre. Furthermore, while the group might have its sights set on joining the Lali Puna, Ms. John Soda, and The Notwist ranks, Furtives Furies isn't at the level of Scary World Theory, No P. or D., or Neon Golden. Having said that, there's also no denying that Margo's latest has more than its share of strong and memorable moments.

December 2005