proper measure: all people hear is the word “old”, when the important one is “new”. Making new things out of old things is an act of alchemy. It’s very complicated. You take rusted lead and transform it into sparkling gold… The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Standells, Chocolate Watchband, Billy Childish and other garage heroes; Ennio Morricone, John Barry and 1960’s Italian songs; Can, Neu! and all the Teutonic knights of motoric groove; The Cramps, of course, Nick Cave, Gainsbourg and tonic psych rock: Lionel and Marie from the Limiñanas know them all by heart, they worship them. They drink from that well and, after a good kneading and pounding, they make something else out of it. “We don’t do revivalism”, states Lionel from behind his beard. “In fact, some purists are accusing us of selling out, which is a good sign”.
The proof is in this fifth album – no rest for the wicked of Perpignan – which is blown right open here and there by a few very contemporary guests. After the opener, ‘Ouverture’, with its almost surf-like guitars, comes ‘Le Premier Jour’, where Lionel talks about his rock baptism with the punks, the mods, the skinheads and the Lambrettas of his youth in the South of France. It’s the theme running through this new record: “We like to screenwrite our albums. This one tells the story of a teenager reaching high school who builds his personality by discovering rock’n’roll in the early 80’s, and meeting all the different gangs of that time. That’s why the record sounds weirdly like it could have come out at the time”. What comes just after is the seismic shock of ‘Istanbul is Sleepy’: the Imprimatur of Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre is simply enormous. Lionel talks about this scintillating collaboration: “During the promo for the last album, a journalist read us one of Anton’s tweets saying he’d bought our record, that he loved it and would love to work with us. He wrote to us via Facebook, we couldn’t believe it! Of course, we accepted immediately. He’s a lovely man, very altruistic; he helped us enormously and even hooked us up with our current touring agent. We made a Kinks cover with him, remotely, for a Mojo sampler, and he explained that he didn’t like working from a distance, so we went to see him in Berlin. He has this great home-studio in his apartment filled with all the type of gear we love. We took the plane with all our demos, he called his sound engineer over, Andrea Wright, a great chick from Liverpool who’s worked with the Pale Fountains, Echo& The Bunnymen and Black Sabbath, and we finalised everything at Anton’s, redoing Marie’s drums. It all sounded fantastic. The album was done over four or five months, working here and there. In all, it comes down to about three weeks of actual work”.
Then comes Emmanuelles Seigner’s super sexy tornado on the title track; the Limiñanas were already great fans of her album with Ultra Orange. And ‘Dimanche’ follows, with Bertrand Belin, whom they met at a festival; Lionel sees him as a “French Nick Cave who writes songs that resemble films. A fantastic guy.” He’s right… Peter Hook is back. “He’s the only person we approached to collaborate with us”. He was already on Malamore and scrapes his bass guitar again here on ‘The Gift’, a song reminiscent of an early period New Order. Finally, the Limiñanas on their own send out an instrumental cavalcade with a furious beat, like a Kraut Morricone, ‘Motorizzati Marie’ followed by ‘Pink Flamingos’, introduced with psych rock pads played backwards forming a vaporous song bathed in acoustic arpeggios. A respite in the album… before the fuzz and the abyssal bass of ‘Trois Bancs’ violently shakes the ghost of Gainsbourg: an electroshock in talk over.
And to close the scene, a love message: ‘De La Part Des Copains’; its organ, its tambourine, its quaver and its brass place it in the classic soundtrack category revered by the band. An ideal conclusion for this incredible faultless record.
The rock’n’roll epiphany thus continues. It belongs to those who will listen – full blast – to Shadow People and will doubtless feel the urge to plug a guitar into an amp. A valve amp, of course.