If I take plain rice, I'll pay double price.
The Internet hype machine being what it is these days, it's hard not to approach an album with any preconceived notions of what lies within. As soon as an album is sent out it's leaked. Then come the 'net seekers, spouting forth a mixture of praise, invective and pointed, pointless fence-sitting (no-one cares whether you haven't decided whether you like the new Wilco record yet, douchebag!), dependent on their viewpoint. Opinions becoming more and more like arseholes with every passing day, random, barely-formed thoughts are posted on message boards and blogs about a record before the band have even received their own copies.
It's refreshing then to come to an album with absolutely no idea of what to expect. There's no hype, no hive-mind consensus that you should avoid it like the plague or you need to hear it because it will enrich your life and that's what happened to me with the debut album by My Sister Klaus. So, let me introduce you to them, thus negating everything I've just said. Okay, before this blog eats itself, let the hyperbole begin.
My Sister Klaus is, ostensibly the work of just one man, Parisian Guillaume Teyssier. His debut album, Chateau Rouge, produced by Joakim and due to drop soon on Tigersushi is an excellent record that manages to be both achingly hip and staggeringly unfashionable (as if I know about these kind of things) at the same time. Taking in pretty much every influential rock music subgenre between 1965 and 1985, it's a style-hopping wild ride that ultimately and thankfully holds together as a cohesive entity.
On My Sister Klaus' MySpace, Teyssier lists his influences as including Blind Willie McTell, The Velvet Underground, The Ronettes, The Cramps, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and Wire and, for once, he makes good on most of them. For instance, 'Stereo Eyes' is pure late period VU, while 'She Shines' has the swing of early rock 'n' roll and could easily pass for The Pirates.
Elsewhere there are touches of the late-70s/early-80s French synth wave movement (check out last year's superb compilation, BIPPP on Born Bad Records) on the title track, flashes of tense, uptight, '77-era Talking Heads new wave on 'Privateer' (a kindred spirit of 'Psycho Killer') and blasts of primal, Stooges-y garage rock on 'Kicks Of Sand'. Teyssier also displays a deft lightness of touch with the spooky torch-blues of 'La Tour De Nesles' and the sprightly Bowie pop of 'China Gun'.
The only real problem with Chateau Rouge is that, in trying on so many outfits, My Sister Klaus never really forge an identity of their own, but the ability to be an expert chameleon is one that Teyssier has in spades. Each genre he inhabits fits him like a glove, even the on the nose James Chance pastiche, 'Off White' and crucially, if given the right amount of exposure, this could be the album that hipster aesthetes and those who like a little more meat on the bone agree on. The substance and the artistry are counterbalanced by a flair for showing off. All mouth and with the trousers to back it up, Chateau Rouge is one of the most consistently surprising and exciting records I've heard in a long time. Let the hysteria commence.
My Sister Klaus - China Gun (mp3)