When two artists rooted in AC/DC and Led Zeppelin come together, you’d expect lots of things. Rock, extended guitar solos, and screaming vocals. With their debut album Ro Sham Bo, however, Beaux Cheveux are none of those things. Instead, the combined creative talents of Adrian Conner (Hell’s Belles) and Clementine (Zepparella) have given birth to something somewhat electro, occasionally dream-pop and vocally engaging. OK, there’s some ear-catching guitar licks in there – there’s definitely no denying the rock origins of this work – but it’s taken to another place. Deliciously different, this is an album that carves a new track, delivers a different groove and opens up a mix of possibilities.
Long distance relationships can be tricky at the best of times. Starting a collaboration by sharing audio files from Austin to San Francisco might not be conventional, but for Beaux Cheveux it was certainly the start of something creative. The result is a nine-track compilation that covers the ground from ’70s influenced rock to futuristic electro. The latter is encompassed in “We’re Open Now”, which opens the album with innovative finesse.
Fancy a bit of soul-funk? Try “You Beautiful Flame” for all the ingredients of retro-disco, but blended together with a cheeky, contemporary style. Don’t get too dancy, though, because the next track, “Rio Grande” dials it way down to soft-pop. There’s a guitar solo in there, too, hinting at Beaux Cheveux’s rock roots and proving, if proof were needed, that there’s musicianship behind the music.
That underlying ’80s vibe turns up again in “Free Love”. No spoilers but expect a sprinkling of surprises in the arrangement as it meanders through genres, threaded together with a sensual vocal, reassuring that “free love makes it alright”.
Back to guitar and drums with an occasional eccentric twist in “Deeper Feeling”, which also delivers some quirky vocal harmonies. Beaux Cheveux is a band that does things their own way, so each track delivers something strange, original, unique and engaging. Familiar yet idiosyncratic and ever-so-slightly off-centre.
Driving a back-beat and addictive guitar riffs beneath jazz-infused vocals, “Holiday of Love” offers another genre-blending treat, before the cinematic intro of “Sunset Marquee” brings another familiar sequence to Beaux Cheveux’ kitbox of fusions. The concept “Sunset, lay your marquee on me” is strangely just right, too.
Time for more jazz-blues? Adrian and Clementine lay it down in “Fourth of July”. Heavily layered, mellow yet racy, this is a departure within an album of departures which shows the downright audacious talent of this duo. How they spend their holiday is a whole other question, as they ‘shut the door and let the sparks fly’.
Closing with a delightfully rhythmic piece of pop “Little Gold Betty” wraps it up. Toe-tappingly fun, decorated with unexpected tones and tunelets, this is a track that stays in the mind long after the album is over.
Departing from their rock roots has given Beaux Cheveux the space and energy to create something distinctive. Influences inhabit the album, twisting and turning up in exciting, unexpected places. Playful and teasing in a way that only an old friend can get away with, yet fresh, novel and energetic, Ro Sham Bo is both nostalgic and future-focussed. Which is quite an achievement. Expect to dip back into old CD collections to work out exactly what each track brings to mind, then accept that you probably won’t find it anyway.
Ro Sham Bo was released on January 19th. Get your copy here
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