Les Bellas‘ Belladelic has been sitting in some dusty corner of Perpignan, France completed and unreleased for over three years. As legend has it, the record was to be released by some unnamed California label specializing in garage, but the label reneged and the record never happened. Fast forward three years to the present day. Les Bellas are long gone, having moved onto other gigs (most notably the Liminanas who have been mentioned before around here), but two French labels in SDZ and Les Disques Steak have come along to rescue of this nearly lost nugget.
On my first listen of the album, I kept thinking that each song was a cover because they all sounded drenched, steeped and aged in a gauzy garage sound that so many bands go for these days , but can’t seem to get the real echo and reverb out of their garage band software. Les Bellas feel like they actually existed in the 60’s and somebody warped them to the 21st century. The sound isn’t compressed for optimum headphone listening, it’s geared to making you hear the organ swirls, bursts of horn, sandpaper blocks, buzzing bass, jangling guitars and backing vocals.
Both sides of the record start out with songs sung in French and are probably my two favorites for that fact. I Love You on the A-side and Belladelic on the B-side feature Nadege Figuerolla singing in French over a beefy ye-ye beats. The remainder of the songs are in English with Figuerolla and Giom Picardand trading their boy-girl vocals, but surprises still ensue, like the deft use of horns on songs Drown, A Dream That Slips and Sad Morning that bring to mind Love on Forever Changes and even a slight indiepop influence. They do a pretty good Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra imitation on country tinged Mistrial Blues, and I wasn’t totally off base about the covers either. Their version of the Cryin’ Shames‘ It’s a Crying Shame is pretty raw and stellar, and I think I prefer their version of Wanda Jackson‘s Funnel of Love to the one the Fall did on their recent Your Future Our Clutter album.
This may be the most nuanced ‘garage record’ I’ve heard in a long time. Some might accuse it of jumping on the bandwagon with its girls and garage combination, but keep in mind that Belladelic has been in the can for years. Les Bellas use a large pallet in their songwriting, but have a knack for incorporating the various styles into a cohesive unit that makes you wonder what that California label was thinking when it passed on this.
You can also download mp3’s of their first two singles from Profet Records.