London has so much to offer. It’d be easy to keep venturing out to the tried and trusted venues for my gig action but I’m keen to remain curious and to keep digging beneath the surface of this sprawling metropolis. Thus, I find myself on a pleasant Thursday evening in a stunning library surrounded by the very best French books.
This is not any library. The Denis Saurat Reading room at the Institut Francais is an architectural wonder; a dome at one end letting in stained and colourful shards of light . Ladders and wooden steps guide you to a book-laden balcony that runs around the outside of the room. I choose to sit down in one of the comfy modern pieces of furniture, a chair in beanbag shape.
I’m here to see Le SuperHomard play a stripped-back set. This baroque pop is right up my street; their 60’s influenced bossa-nova tunes reconnect me with those days when I solely listened to Gainsbourg, St. Etienne, The Clientele and Air whilst dreaming of the life-changing romance that I was convinced was just around the corner.
The romance never came and the cynical punk came out. But tonight it’s good to reminisce.
This gig is part of a monthly initiative, Music Rendezvous, within the Institut Francais, an effort to share the best of emerging French music with the British public and French ex-pats. But many of us here have already heard of Le SuperHomard. 6 Music DJs have picked up on some of the brilliance within their debut album, Meadow Lane Park, and have been urgently spinning key tracks. The fact that the record is released on the seminal indie-pop label, Elefant Records, evidently helps aa well.
Typically a five piece, the library setting dictates the stream-lining. It’s SuperHomard first outing as a three-piece but you wouldn’t know by listening. Through a mix of electronica, acoustic guitar and sweet chanson action, the trio of Christophe, Julie and Benoit captivate all for 45 minutes with their Gallic pop. Dressed in a mix of denim, mod excess and blue and white striped fisherman shirts, the look screams twee and gorgeous cinematic hip.
The music is dreamlike for the romantic poets gathered, a soundtrack to every holiday romance we’ve ever yearned for. It screams of sunny days in the park, misspent youth and nostalgic longing. When Julie dances with her arms locked behind her back we’re transported back to those days when indie disco had something to say, perhaps fittingly for an act named after a nightclub from a 1966 film.
We learn about the origins of the name (and all manner of other stuff) in a Q&A that follows the set. The trio are civilly interviewed; it’s polite, informative and engaging. Christophe is the main songwriter and Benoit the gifted producer who uses analog and digital methods of production to conjure up the fresh sound from a studio and music shop in Avignon. The lyrics are written by two of Christophe’s English-speaking friends because he wants to avoid any sense of Franglais. Julie’s voice is pretty English-sounding we all agree. Meadow Lane Park is (rather disappointingly) not an homage to Notts County, the oldest football team in the world, but rather a reference to a children’s park in the USA.
I make a note of Le SuperHomard impending date in Brighton for The Great Escape and add their set to my growing list of must-sees. “It’ll be livelier as a five piece”, promises Christophe to an audience that has already been converted.