I don’t usually go out of my way to listen to French pop, nor do I place any special emphasis on calypso music, but my #1 recommendation for summertime listening is an intersection of both.
The group is called Polo & Pan, a mashup of two fairly well-established French DJs whose real names are difficult for Americans to spell or pronounce, and for our purposes here, their real names are unimportant.
Much more important is the fact that back in 2017, the duo released their first full-length album, “Caravelle.” We can’t quite call it a debut, since these guys have been around for years, putting out singles and EPs for quite a while. And the previous work is nothing to sneeze at: decent Eurodance tunes with creative instrumentation. But “Caravelle” is something else entirely.
These 12 tracks are shamelessly shallow. Their only purpose is to set up a beach party in your brain for nearly an hour. That’s it. And if you don’t speak French and you’re concerned you won’t fully enjoy the record if you can’t understand the words, fear not, ‘cuz the lyrics are definitely not dealing with serious storylines. The songs I bothered to translate share a very specific tone and style. They mostly just describe being in a very nice place, often involving a beach, with someone special. They do not tell the listener how they got there or what’s going to happen next, they just reiterate that this is a very nice place and that a good time is being had by all.
“In your verdurous dress just like Eve’s
Your beauty was astonishing
Birds were singing us their melodies
And we were living happy in the canopy.”
And after all, this is what American pop lyrics are about much of the time: about how tonight’s the night and it’s a good night, a few lines about how sexy the other person is, then some euphemisms and probably a synonym for the word ‘explode.’ But the addition of French lyrics lets you feel fancy, cultured, and immune to criticisms of taste.
The beats and melodies are as smooth as a cold negroni on a sweaty afternoon. They draw on Europe’s long history of dub music, which is essentially remixed reggae set to hip-hop-esque drum kits, and most likely some serious reverb.
It’s the product of a cultural blender, spitting out a smoothie of delicious, low-impact jams for you to take to the park, out on a tailgate, and, hopefully, at some point, an actual beach.
So relax, you’ve earned it.