Prototypes | Prototypes (Minty Fresh)

Prototypes have already had a top-ten single in France, and it’s likely that clubgoers over here will soon learn what is already known in the underground clubs of Europe: These kids have got it, baby.

 


Bands that choose to sing in a language other than English often have a hard time breaking through commercially, at least in the United States. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens to Prototypes, a zippy little French electronic-rock trio with more than enough going for them to perk up some ears on these shores. Their self-titled stateside debut is about the danciest, sexiest little thing to come out in ages, and if you have any trouble at all with Isabel Le Doussal’s sassy but precise French vocals (most won’t), just try resisting the wildly energetic, jumped-up riffs and rhythms conjured by her bandmates Stephane Bodin and Francois Marche. Prototypes have already had a top-ten single in France, and it’s likely that clubgoers over here will soon learn what is already known in the underground clubs of Europe: These kids have got it, baby.

The infectious chorus of “Je Ne Te Connais Pas” (which is mostly “yeah, yeah, yeah” sung repeatedly) lets you know right away you’re about to get a good dose of pure pop for maintenant persons. “Tir Aux Pigeons” offers ultra-cool synthesized percussion and Le Doussal’s liquidy-smooth enunciation, rounding out the flavoring with some taut, lively electric guitar. “Melodie, mon cherie!” Le Doussal shouts by way of kicking off one of many straight-up dance romps here, in this case the irresistible “Medicalement.” If this tune were played in any small urban club in America, at least half the patrons would likely get out there and start shakin’ it.

On most of these songs, like the peerless “Gentleman,” the sound is a gleaming wonder to behold. Instruments snap, crackle, and pop; multiple rhythmic elements compete for your attention (like the finger-snap percussion that kicks in several times on this tune). And the vocals overflow with zesty allure; they’re tres bon, whether you understand them or not.

Although very few tracks are weak enough to skip, some are so fine that they deserve special mention. “Dis Moi” begins with a unique two-beat mechanical sound that’s a real grabber, before completely erasing your resistance with an urgent vocal, a potent rhythm, and some delightful little retro keyboard passages. The aptly titled “Sexy” is just catchy as hell, and inexplicably features the band singing in English on the chorus. And the oddly titled “06 60 92 92” is so deliriously good, it can barely contain its own gleeful energy. The rhythm track is unstoppable, and there’s an extra little quirky electronic flourish that keeps recurring, adding musical interest to a sound that’s clearly not content to merely be dance rock.

And that’s the secret to Prototypes: Yes, they want you to move, but they also want to tickle your ears and keep you coming back for more. This is party music supreme, and although Prototypes didn’t invent this sound, they blend the retro and the modern with more pure style and joie de vivre than any band in ages, French or otherwise.

 


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