Parisian fashion house/label celebrate ten years of releasing music with a fresh new compilation of their current cause celebre. Surely only a groaty music hack could try and spoil that party. Well....
Let's share a little secret, just between us. Whenever a new Kitsune Maison collection pops through the letterbox, I'm always like a kid on Christmas Day. Led by their 'Captain' Gildas Loaec, the outfit have continued to do what they do very well by taking off the creme de la foam of what's hot and then sticking in our ear goggles ever since nu metal was still with us. And - bonus - they rarely fail to unearth some of the kind of stuff we in the trade can always pretend we'd heard about years before you did.
This time though, on Kitsune Maison Compilation 14: The Tenth Anniversary Issue, there's a problem. It's not so much that the quality of their roster is inferior to past outings, but that the continued willingness to explore most of pop's darker recesses in search of obscure gold has somehow failed to locate anything truly ear grabbing this time round. It probably says it all that Loaec's twinkling remix of TDCC's Sun constitutes a highlight, whilst Gigamesh's versioning of Citizens! True Romance lands somewhere between Yeasayer and old timers Erasure in the synth-pop 'til you drop category.
The faux pas is that any fairy dust here is sprinkled too liberally amongst an otherwise pretty homogeneous clutch of blue-eyed retro Europeans without too much in the way of guile. Both Saint Michel and Saint Lou Lou fraternise with the insipid switch, the latter on opener Maybe You. Perhaps ignoring the only rule of a great compilation tape - big opener to start with - is a particularly Gallic trait. Or, perhaps nearly ten years of always getting it right has left the label's mavens with a feeling of being bomb proof. Either way, the Zeitgeist ain't getting mined tonight, baby.
So maybe the gun doesn't always go off, but there are still some bullets especially during a brief period in which mid-eighties soul and funk are plundered to groove bumpin' effect on Lorenz Rhode's Any Kind of Pressure, and then on MoonLight Matters Come For Me, the latter sounding like Debarge being found naked dancing at a Darwen rave. Credit too for the inclusion of Plaitum's Geisha which isn't as quirky and twisted as Grimes but, instead, roughs up Class Actress a little via raw chunks of post dubstep and serial frequency distortion.
You'd have had to have said off with their heads if some of their mighty residual kudos hadn't been still on the pitch then mes amis, but Wildcat! Wildcat!'s Please And Thank You isn't anyone's finest hour, a disco scrub up for Peter & The Magician's Memory courtesy of Le Crayon fails to give a jolt to its inner drab, and having a track called Encore which is actually 20 seconds of silence is, as we say over here, just a bloody swizz.
As a label, Kitsune are still plenty in credit here, so it's all absolutely Fonzie; after years of being as reliable as an air traffic controller's strike on a bank holiday Monday, this is obviously a faux pas. All we say here is, don't let it happen again. Please.
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