Band of the Day

2012.05.31

Prototypes

Sassy and precocious synth-pop from Paris, France
Their sound is most fully discovered on their most-recent release, Synthétique (2008).
Band of the Day Review

The French trio Prototypes came together in Paris in 2003. Made up of Stéphane Bodin (Bass, Synth) François Marché (Guitar) and Isabelle Le Doussal (vocals), Prototypes released their first LP, Tout le Monde Cherche Quelque Chose, in 2004 on Barclay Records. Their sophomore effort, Mutants Mediatiques, was released in 2005. US label Minty Fresh heard the group and released the self-titled album Prototypes in 2006. The American debut album for the group was a collection of tracks from the band’s previous two albums. Songs from the group have been used in several advertising campaigns for companies such as Mitsubishi, Apple, and BMW, as well as having their music featured in television shows like The L Word and Gossip Girl. Their most recent album, Synthetique, came out in 2008.

While there are a host of European bands that have broken through stateside, only a paltry few have done so while speaking in their native tongue. Whether it's America's latent xenophobia or love of singing along, with very few exceptions —Sigur Ros, Kent, and Rammstein spring to mind — when it comes to pop music in this country, you speak English or you get out.

But Prototypes, from Paris, France, have been churning out the type of slinky, bouncy dance pop music that will make anyone stand up and take notice, whether or not they speak French. Their debut album, Tout Le Monde Cherche Quelque Chose A Faire, was released in 2004. Since then, they’ve tasted minor success in the United States, most notably with their song “Who’s Gonna Sing” (from their 2006 self-titled album) being featured in an iPod commercial.

At first Prototypes may seem like a bit of a misnomer, because the group is such a product of their influences. Vocalist Isabelle Le Doussal’s shtick is pure Debbie Harry, while the arrangements are heavily buoyed by the sound of early Berlin, David Bowie, and the Bangles. That said, their sound is most fully discovered on their most-recent release, Synthétique (2008). It’s a sassy, precocious, and potent mixture of dance-pop, nu-wave, and (wouldn’t you know it?) just a little bit of English. In reality, the tracks in English reinforce how much better and more comfortable they are working in their native language. Doussal's punchy, yet sultry delivery feels so much more natural in French. Her vocals effortlessly glide over Stephane Bodin's urbane synthscapes and François Marche's nu-wave staccato guitar stabs. They are at their best when they stick to streamlined new-wave, especially on the bouncy earworm "Un Coup De Langue" and the punchy "Elle." Even if you don't understand a word of French, you'll be hard-pressed not to dance to their music.