YELLE is named after and fronted by Yelle, née Julie Budet, a sparkplug gamine with a deceptively demure schoolgirl voice. GrandMarnier (born Jean-François Perrier) and Tepr add the electro-beats, disco-inspired loops and inescapable hooks to her speak-sung lyrics.
Buoyant. Brash. Exhibitionist. Melancholy?
French dance-pop purveyors YELLE will return in 2011 with “Safari Disco Club”: A surprising new album that goes beyond the sweet-and-tart cocktail of their 2007 debut “Pop-Up,” adding a layer of experience over all that indulgent innocence.
“The main idea,” says producer/mastermind GrandMarnier, “is to dance and cry at the same time.”
The world first met YELLE through “Je Veux Te Voir,” an explicit but fun-loving girl-on-boy diss track with an edgy electro beat that made everyone within earshot hit the dance floor. Despite being sung entirely in French – as is all their music – the hit rocketed the band to international stardom, and gained them a dedicated fan base of downtown artists, fashionistas, and nouveau club kids.
If “Pop-Up” was a breakout debut set of bawdy pop, “Safari Disco Club” will reintroduce Yelle in a whole new way. The album goes where all sophomore efforts should: Deeper, with more sonic and emotional diversity, an increasingly definitive style, and the poise of a band maturing and hitting its stride.
“'Pop-Up’ was produced differently: We did ‘Je Veux Te Voir’ first, then we waited two or three months, then started another song,” says GrandMarnier. “‘Safari Disco Club” is a more fluid, cohesive album that you can listen to from the first track to the last.”
The band used some of the time between albums to collaborate with other artists they admired: They swapped covers with Robyn (Yelle covered Robyn’s “Who’s That Girl”; Robyn covered their “A Cause Des Garçons”); remixed Katy Perry and worked with dance production duo Crookers on the track “Couleur Cooler,” which rocked dance floors in nightclubs on both sides of the Atlantic.
But the majority of their two years off the road was spent on “Safari Disco Club”. The confident album vacillates comfortably between extremes: hot and cold, happy and sad. “Mon Pays” (“My Country”) uses an icy New Wave synth theme with a Caribbean rhythm to address the need to move on from a place, or a person; “Unillusion” channels Chicago house with a minimal techno kick, while Yelle’s sweet voice analyzes a new love: “Hand in hand / United when it goes well.” (It’s one of three tracks co-produced by German producer Siriusmo, aka Moritz Friedrich.) The haunting “S’éteint le soleil” (“The Sun Goes Out”) considers the end of days with a tough yet delicate sonic backdrop that blooms and threatens like the work of electronic masters like BT and Conjure One.
It’s a journey of an album, with as much beauty and depth as “Pop-Up” had spunk and fun.
“We are really proud of it, and I’m very excited to be onstage and sing it,” says Yelle.
“Safari Disco Club” was released in March 2011 (V2 / Cooperative Music)