A Jack in the Box commercial suggests they're prickly snobs. Americans have renamed potato death sticks "freedom fries" in their dishonor. The French have now surpassed most ethnic minorities as this country's primo target for puns. Not a great time to be Parisian in El Cajon.
"I didn't feel that at all when I came to America last time-not at customs, at restaurants, anywhere," Nicolas Godin says in a thick accent that unwillingly conjures "war on terror" and "pussies" in this writer's mind.
"I realize that when Americans come to France, people are not very nice to them all the time. We make the music that makes people dream-people can forget their problems for one hour and we don't want break that magic by expressing our views on politics."
Dreams-precipitous, dry or just hazy little meanderings of consciousness-are indeed what Godin and his partner Jean-Benoît Dunckel create. This year's Talkie Walkie (no-it's how they say it in French, you pretentious oignon) is a finalist for the 2004 Shortlist Prize, alongside Franz Ferdinand, Loretta Lynn, Wilco and others.
Great album. But 1998's Moon Safari still reigns as their masterpiece-an electronic smoothie for the intergalactic couch potato in us all.
"It's a magic album," Godin admits. "When people listen to it the first time, they have such a big emotion. That's why we never did another album like Moon Safari. It's like kissing a girl for the first time and wanting to experience that same passion. You can't."
For years, the duo relied on guest vocalists to give a human edge to their machine music. With Talkie Walkie, however, the two actually sing. They're no Sinatras, but it works.
"When we sing we make a lot of mistakes and that's part of our charm," Godin says. "We wanted to write a lot of personal songs, and we didn't feel right having someone else sing about our own lives. On [our last album] 10,000 Hz Legend, we were more cynical and sarcastic. For this album, we wanted to be naïve and sing simple love songs with very nice words." B
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