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Album Review: Singtank – In Wonder

Brother and sister musical duos; they’re kind of creepy, right? And slightly unsettling is also just about the best way to sum up the electro indie debut album of French sibling double act Joséphine and Alexandre de la Baume as well.

Although they have been writing music together for around six years and spent their childhood arguing over whether Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson was truly king, Singtank only started showcasing their shared creative efforts last year on five track EP, The Party. The delay, perhaps, can be put down to the fame imbalance of Singtank; as well as writing the lyrics and providing the vocals for this musical project, Joséphine de la Baume also fills her time by being an actress, model, wife of Mark Ronson, and general fashion and hipster muse who is frequently asked to reveal the secrets of her effortless Parisian chic look (not washing too often and minimal makeup is the key – FYI). Thus with so many other proverbial irons in the fire, it’s difficult to view In Wonder as anything more than a vanity project for Ms de la Baume. An indulgent venture it may be, but it’s certainly not an unlikeable one.

In Wonder is perky collection of minimal pop that stays true to the upbeat and mischievous traditions of the Yé-yé genre. Chunky piano riffs, skipping rhythms and wispy vocals make up the majority of Singtank’s compositions which is often a winning combination that allows them to achieve their presumed goal of Franz Ferdinand-style artsy edginess. There are plenty of spritely moments to enjoy, from ‘Never Love Again’ to ‘Superstar,’ but Singtank unquestionably thrive on the slower ballads of ‘Sirens,’ ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Blue’ as their uncanny harmonies are given adequate breathing space.

As with anyone speaking, or in this case, singing in their second language, translation comes into play and syllables are often stretched or squashed in order to fit time signatures which is, at times, charming – and at other points, borders on indecipherable. A further double-edged sword to Singtank’s lyrics is their simplicity. On occasion they get away with tawdry sentiments by dressing them up with sexy bows; when Joséphine and Alexandre purr that, “There’s a party going on, somewhere between fantasy and the skirt that you’ve got on,” it’s surely just a slightly slicker invitation to a pants party. The lyrics on ‘Give It To Me,’ a track made to please the fashion masses and designed to soundtrack a perfume advert if ever there was one, contains the most stale line of the entire album in the form of “I want sunshine in winter so I can keep my hair colour.” Whilst ‘Nuit Nuit,’ an ominous nursery rhyme in a similar vein to Lily Allen’s ‘Alfie,’ is centred around its tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “I want to get with your dad, make an ugly child.”

Despite In Wonder being an album that will probably be most appreciated by those enraptured by Joséphine de la Baume and her strawberry blonde fabulousness, there’s a knowing humour to Singtank that should win them a few fans in their own right.

-Kate Allen

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