Like the K-Pop superstars of today or the ‘90s swinging pop of Pizzicato Five, you don’t need to be bilingual to enjoy the hell out of Yelle. This trio’s frontwoman (Yelle, natch) sings exclusively in French, but as she’s shown over the course of three full-lengths and countless concert dates in the U.S., it’s all in how you sell the songs.
Yelle luckily has great music to help in her cause. The glistening disco pop conceived by GrandMarnier and Tepr has that great modernist bent that made Robyn such a potent force a few years ago. There’s simply a lot more variation to be found on Complètement Fou, or Completely Crazy. The three-piece, with help from producer Dr. Luke (the man who helped bring “Since U Been Gone” into the world) dabbles in Prince-style electro funk (“Nuit De Baise II”), sandpaper-y beats to accompany the otherwise heartfelt ballad “Bouquet Final,” and the glittery, mirrorball lit “Toho.”
Complètement seems positioned to emphasize the group’s most playful and sultry sides. The songs all push a physical agenda, from the quaintly metaphorical—“Moteur Action” (“Motor Action”) and “Les Soupirs et Les Refrains” (“The Sighs and Refrains”)—to a more in-your-face approach, like titling two songs “Nuit De Baise” (that’s “Night of Fucking” to me and you). That these tunes are complemented by some of the sexiest pop cooked up yet this year only adds to the heated vibe.
Maintaining an air of cool reserve, yet completely engaged in every last moment of this album, is Yelle herself. As ever, she proves herself a versatile singer, allowing for a softness to curl around the edges of her voice, especially on the second half of the album where she opts for a harder edge, stressing each syllable with frost and fire. Hers is the siren song that leads you towards a brief moment of ecstasy, a long bout of heartache, and no regrets at all.