ALSB is a band that is hard to put a label on. Following the momentum of their critically acclaimed debut album À lʼétage des funambules, ALSB continues to delight and confound with their new album Entre Nous. Do you enjoy French cabaret jazz-country-ska-mariachi-swingtorch-Motown-samba-rock and roll-trip hop? Does that even make sense? When you listen to Entre Nous, the answer is a resounding “oui”.
The fact is, ALSB is not concerned with such limiting concepts as genre – they simply go where their musical curiosity takes them.
Cutting their musical teeth on Toronto’s club scene, ALSB built a following reinterpreting French classic as seen through a kaleidoscope of other influences. Edith Piaf sitting in with a slow jam rhythm section, Jacque Brel having a bar brawl with Tom Waits… this is the sound that the band has been celebrated for – and won awards for, including the prestigious Coup De Foudre 2012. It is a sound that has thrilled audiences across Canada.
It is that sound and repertoire that informed their debut À lʼétage des funambules. But although their unique take on French classics made up the bulk of the album, it was the original composition Avec Toi that was the break out single from the record.
Bolstered by that song’s success, ALSB have set out to flex their compositional muscles on the brand new Entre Nous, including the new single Je Tombe.
Je Tombe is emblematic of Entre Nous… a song about the connections between people that is energetic, emotional, and catchy as hell. All through Entre Nous, ALSB charts new musical territory. Working again with producer Dean Drouillard (Royal Wood) the band has created a lush foundation for these original tales of “between us”, giving the songs a warm and charmingly retro vibe, full of sonic depth. And surprises.
Comment le dire bursts from the speakers like some sort of French hoedown, two-step dance party, while the title track and la mer nʼest pas la mer travel a little farther south…La mer in particular might just answer the age old question, “what would a mariachi band sound like if it was marching up the Champs Elysées?” Sucre à la crème is exactly what a gypsy jazz cookbook would sound like, while Pierrot et la lune is sweet all on its own, starting delicately with a single ukulele and building to a gorgeous, Beach Boys worthy climax. Elsewhere on the album, Juno winner QuiQue Escamilla drops by to conjugate some verbs with Amélie, singing over Être‘s smooth and playful samba groove. Feeling less playful, the band clearly has Paris on its mind with the beautiful torch song le carillon, paying tribute to the city of light’s resolve and fortitude in the face of recent tragedy. It is heart wrenching, uplifting, and oh so French – a song that strings a tight rope directly back to the great French songwriters the band has learned so much from.
And as a group that clearly loves playing with other people’s songs, ALSB couldn’t resist throwing a couple cover interpretations into the Entre Nous mix for good measure. Legendary Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End Of Love becomes the cool groove of danse moi, while the age-old Canadian folk song À la Claire Fontaine sounds like it may just be an early Beatles B-side you’ve never heard.
Entre nous is an album that takes chances and covers a lot of musical ground. It will surprise and delight you. You don’t need to put a label on it – you just need to put it on.