Francis Jones ponders the moody groove of The Bêtes Noires
The Bêtes Noires
They’ve been around for a while now, but at last The Bêtes Noires are truly getting their dark groove on. There is a sinister swagger underlying these tracks that pays testament to the band’s love of those misanthropic Mancs, Joy Division. Nothing wrong with that, after all if Interpol and Editors can get away with it why not the Bêtes Noires boys and girl?
The opening ‘Last Guest To Leave’ chimes an ominous toll, the drums are pure and intent, the guitars scorch before exploding into febrile life in the chorus and the accusatory lyric is carried by a vocal that is broken glass raw. Indeed the only thing that doesn’t work on the opener are the vocal harmonies.
Produced by the ever-excellent Rocky at One Zero Zero Studios such harmonies are the sort of touch that would not seem out of place in Oppenheimer’s glistening soundscapes. However, within the shadowy confines of this particular The Bêtes Noires’ number it seems a misplaced gesture, an uninvited interloper into their dark domain.
‘New Golden Rules’ is more confidently upbeat, here the guitars strut vigorously, the drums are impudent and the vibe is reminiscent of The Replacements circa ‘Let It Be’. Relationship follies and foibles are the bedrock of the narrative.
The opening of final track ‘Breakdowns’ is uncannily similar to Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. However, it soon veers off in a wholly different direction, the glacial emotions and sense of detachment of the Division exchewed in favour of something that is altogether more honest and direct in sentiment.
As elsewhere the sorrowful melodies, impeccable structure and haunted mood prove that The Bêtes Noires have a skilful and distinct grasp of atmospherics. All in all they have delivered a thrilling three track tease, we can’t wait for the long player.