Nouvelle Vague

Bande A Part

Nouvelle Vague's self-titled debut in 2004 was a terrific conceit — young French chanteuses recasting, in breathless bossa nova-style, punk classics like the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck," making for plenty of audio spit-takes. But a dozen or so variations on the theme seemed just about right. The formula proved popular enough to warrant a second coming: Bande A Part adds new-wave classics to the mix, with mostly diminishing returns, unfortunately. Some songs, particularly Echo & the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon" and the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love?" do retain the light/dark contrast magic of the first record. But other '80s staples such as Blondie's "Heart of Glass," U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself" fall flat, somewhere between aural wallpaper and "Saturday Night Live" lounge-act skits. Nouvelle Vague II might have been better off tackling the grunge or alt-country eras, both crying out for makeovers. 2 stars