Any historians keen on the subject of "French youth in the 1980s" are holding a treasure in their hands. As a true archaeologist of this decade dedicated to disposable culture, digger-in-chief Vidal Benjamin with his newest compilation, 'Pop Sympathie', offers them a unique journey in the heart of the cyclone of emotions that struck all teenagers during the first seven years of François Mitterrand's mandate. Fifteen musical nuggets, exhumed from the dungeons of history, each and every one of them teaching us about what really obsessed the youngsters at that exact moment, i.e. what happens when the city lights come on at dusk, when irrepressible urges that stir them to get lost even more appear until the end of the night.
The artists gathered here did not have the honour of breaking into the local charts, but they all individually reached for the sky. Each song of 'Pop Sympathie' tells more or less the same story: that of a girl who throws herself into the night like one immerses one's self into the void, who rushes into a one-night adventure to become a star. And too bad if in the early morning she finds herself back at square one. In all these miniature odysseys there is neon lights, lasers, smoke machines, broken glass on checkered tiles, strangers on leather benches, celebrities in the bathrooms, stolen kisses, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, Polaroids, venetian blinds and radioactive tubes.
If the first opus of Vidal Benjamin, 'Disco Sympathie', focused on the funky mood of songs that could have been played at Le Palace, then 'Pop Sympathie' develops itself as the imaginary soundtrack of another nightclub, Les Bains-Douches, the capital’s epicenter of nocturnal drifts. So what do we listen to, blasé, at Bains-Douches? Mainly synthesizers. The child of punk and post punk, French New Wave celebrates the matrimony of machines and lolitas under the auspices of a retro trend that revisits the atomic age. Trying to surf on that wave and hit the charts, a bunch of producers (Stéphane Berlow, Laurent Stopnicki, Bernard "Black Devil" Fèvre, Johny Rech, Jean-Yves Joanny ...) will spot their talents amongst friends, in a travel agency or at the local bar. These virtual stars are called Cecilia, Laurent, Sonia, Janou, Fabienne, Anne, Arielle or Ronan, not even 20 years old, and often leaving just an overexposed photo and their first name on a single as the only memories of their swift passage in this particular musical story. It took all the love and sweet madness of Vidal Benjamin to bring them back in the light of day.
Published: 26th April 2019