Orwell Following Days

French scenesters Orwell are well aware of the interest shown in their home country's brand of pop music. Their kooky brand of lounge-based pop follows in the footsteps of collaborator Fugu's recent album, as well as successful acts such as Air and Tahiti 80 (whose guitarist Mederic Gontier contributes to a track here). Following Days, their debut album, breathes the same air that Serge Gainsbourg once did, but without all of the perverse ideas. The music is classy, debonair and full of witty charm. What it doesn't owe to Gainsbourg it owes to the fab four, constructing pop orchestrations that would have George Martin scratching his head and wondering if he's getting royalties. The lyrics are an interesting blend of both French and English, obviously revealing their attempt to retain their cultural integrity while trying to breakthrough to the dominant Anglo market. Disappointingly, their cover of the Prodigy's "Breathe" was left off of the North American release. Even though this album is a record to hear, it sure could use something, like a posh rendition of an electrifying song to liven it up a bit. (Parasol)