Originally released in Europe in 2004, Nouvelle Vague’s self-titled debut hit U.S. shores last year much to the delight of both swinging loungesters and black-clad new wavers. Taking old school synth-laden favorites of his youth from the likes of Joy Division, XTC, Depeche Mode and The Cure and recording them bossa-nova style with young female vocalists, veteran French musician Marc Collin created a worldwide sensation out of something originally intended as a novel one-time project. “I wanted to prove that post-punk bands, even if they only knew two chords, have written beautiful and classic songs which can be arranged in different directions,” says Collin in talking about why he created Nouvelle Vague, a moniker that brilliantly translates as both “New Wave” in French and “Bossa Nova” in Portuguese.
Due to the overwhelming response from the first record, Collin went back into the studio and returned earlier this year with a second Nouvelle Vague record of bossa-new wave hits, “Bande A Part.” This time featuring the Brazilification of such eighties staples as Echo & The Bunnymen, U2, The Buzzcocks, Blondie and even Bauhaus, the album is destined to only further the popularity of the uber-hip Nouvelle Vague. “We realized that a lot of people really loved the project… and Nouvelle Vague became like a real band,” says Collin about bringing his one-off venture back for an encore. “It’s [also] a good way for me to put very personal ideas of production and arrangements into a well-known project.” So, after revisiting and reworking twenty-eight classic tracks over the last two years, what are Collin’s favorite new-wave redux arrangements to date? “‘In a Manner of Speaking’ [originally by Tuxedomoon] because of [singer] Camille’s interpretation,” says Collin, “and ‘Friday Night Saturday Morning’ [originally by The Specials] because of the melancholy of it.”
Almost exactly a year after playing the quaint confines of Schubas, Nouvelle Vague returns to Chicago to play the much larger Metro stage Wednesday night. “We really enjoyed the American shows last year,” notes Collin. “This time we’re bringing more songs and more musicians…[and] visuals, too.” (Brad Knutson)
Nouvelle Vague plays at Metro, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-0203 on September 13. Doors 8pm, show 9pm. $15 cover. Free aftershow follows downstairs at Smart Bar with DJs Manic and Mr. Nathaniel from 10pm-4am.