Replicas is the handle we use to write about reissues and archival releases, offering some thoughts on the original material, and whatever additional goodies or format shifts may have been appended. This time we’re listening to a pleasingly slick remaster of a futurepop classic that has aged remarkably well…
Les Chansons Neurotiques (Remastered)
Non Ordinary Records
What is it?
Neuroticfish’s sophomore album Les Chansons Neurotiques was released in 2002, post-peak futurepop but before the long dominant genre went entirely bust. Bolstered by memorable club hits (“Prostitute” and the completely inescapable “Wake Me Up!” were included in the tracklisting) the record featured slick, hyped-up electropop informed by EBM without many of the trance markers that were part of millennial futurepop’s DNA, with a strong focus on melody and Sascha Mario Klein’s emotive singing. That emphasis on songcraft has helped the album age with more grace than many contemporary releases in the style.
What’s On It?
This new digital release of Les Chansons Neurotiques is presented in more or less its original form, with a pleasingly transparent modern remaster that suits the original production’s cleanliness and clarity. Aside from the inclusion of the original version of “Velocity” (previously appended to the record in an edited form as a bonus track), and b-side “Care”, it’s the same record.
Revisiting them some sixteen years since its original release, it’s notable exactly how tasteful these songs still seem, especially given the excess of the era they originated in. While the tracks are largely built around big arpeggios and anthemic hooks, Klein’s melancholic vocal delivery and wry sense of humour temper the proceedings; despite their rep as a club act, Neuroticfish put some thought into these songs that gives them appeal beyond the dancefloor. Aside from the familiar singles, deeper cuts like “Breakdown” and “Inverse” display a genuine sincerity and highlight Sascha’s knack for arrangements, with smoothly flowing sequences that fit together without muddying the mix or stepping on each other’s toes. Restraint might not be the first descriptor that comes to mind for music this uptempo and sentimental, but listen to the economy in the build of “Darkness – Influence”, or how lesser known single “Need” stays reined in when it could have gone way over the top. They aren’t all winners – the overlong “Stop & Go” is a bit mawkish and “Modulator” feels undercooked – but by and large the songs have an appeal unclouded by age.
Who Should Buy It?
Those who remember dancing to these songs around the turn of the millennium may be surprised at exactly how well they hold up in the light of history, even when the rush of nostalgia has worn off. Folks who haven’t previously been exposed to the record could do much worse than to give it a shot: as a slice of prime futurepop it’s some of the best the often maligned genre had to offer. While not the absolute tour de force that was Neuroticfish’s criminally underrated third LP Gelb (which had a remaster of its own not long ago), Les Chansons Neurotiques has enough innate charm and attention to craft to recommend it.