NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS 15th August, 1987

FRENCH CONNECTION

LES RITA MITSOUKO The No Comprendo (Virgin)

It's hard to see why Rita Mitsouko (or Les Rita, as she/they/it's now known) have raised so many critical hackles on this end of the Euro-Tunnel. After all, Catherine and Fred - potato girl and potato boy, with pipecleainer limbs and Mickey Mouse boots - are the quintessential comic strip combo that AngloSaxon scribes seem to be forever searching for. But then, the current favour goes towards Alan Moore's cosmic slime warriors, while Rita's more in your Serge Clerc line (they sing about cocktails for a start). Accusations of contrivance, anachronism or bendy toy stumpiness shouldn't obscure the sheer madcap wit and brilliance of Les Rita. So what if it takes two gawky, cynical Gauls to galvanise the miscellaneous nails and bolts of ' 70s bubblegum pop and turn them into something as sleazily fetching as this. The deliriously warped melodies are teased and molested by Catherine Ringer's cynical, actressy voice, while the dance factor is impeccable and the arrangements just plain fruity. Strangled trumpets, boozy mariachi fanfares, a dash of cod Grappelli violin - a thousand spices are lavishly thrown into the brew. In Rita's world, a jaundiced view of L'Amour Toujours hold sway, the perfect couple wallow their nights away in a daze of porto, flip and tequila, and a snake-eyed minx goes cruising for a really porky guy to allay her desires ("A brand of big pig will be alright. ..").Although there's some idiosyncratically mutated English most of Ringer's breezily cruel lyrics are in French, and packed with gags, so have that phrase book handy. Oh yes, the duff track from the French LP has been pulied off and the duo's lissom 'Marcia Baila' included instead. A must. And dont ask which one's Les.

Jonathan Romney