Various Le Pop en Duo: Les Chansons de la Nouvelle Scene Francaise

Not familiar with French pop? Not even vaguely interested, you say? Okay, so perhaps it isn’t the easiest scene in the world for the manly men of the Western world to get into. The consistently fey vocals, the suave-like-Leonard-Cohen feel of almost every track, the way it sets a overbearingly romantic mood even when you’re alone, that crap you accidentally caught on French Kiss that one time — it can be a lot to overcome, but Le Pop en Duo, the third in a series of French pop compilations from the Le Pop Musik label, is as good a starting point as any. Le Pop en Duo succeeds in collecting some of best contemporary music French pop has to offer, and a good majority of its 16 duets both fit into and defy any misconceptions its audience might bring. It does maintain an awfully fey atmosphere as it shifts from chamber pop to pop-cheese and a surprising amount of affecting piano ballads (including highlight "Elle Aime” featuring Albin de la Simone and Canada’s Feist), sure. But its ability to connect so quickly and strongly with an audience that may only understand basic phrases they learned in junior high is quite remarkable, indeed. (Le Pop Musik)