CAMPAG VELOCET Bon Chic Bon Genre (PIAS Recordings)

Before witnessing Campag Velocet's performance on the recent NME Premier tour I would have been tempted to write off this quartet's debut album as reheated skunk rock leftovers from a genre already tilled to extinction years ago by the likes of Earl Brutus and (saints preserve us!) Tiger. But (see elsewhere in this issue for more road-to-Damascus-type conversion ramblings) now I'm delighted to report that Campag Velocet are in fact the sound of the entrails being ripped out from the corpse of stuffy old indie music, samples of the long, painful death throes of bands like Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses wired to a new and arcane hipster argot that's partly Nadsat and partly the cracked logic sloganeering of an idiot savant.

The fact that "Bon Chic Bon Genre" rifles its title from a French S&M magazine suggests that Campag Velocet aren’t exactly easy listening, although fortunately they stop some way short of the tiresome 'entertainment through pain' ethos so beloved of some industrial bands. They're not beyond the occasional sideways lurch towards almost coherent poptones ("Vito Satan") or dreamy, fluttery ambience ("Skin So Soft"), but for the most part "Bon Chic Bon Genre" is a savage, battering, hectoring listen. And that's probably what makes it so compelling; Campag Velocet make as few concessions to ease of use as it's possible to get away with and still sell records, and the way that "Bon Chic Bon Genre" cherry picks from material already released as singles during the last two years shows just how little the band's skullcrushing approach has been compromised on the journey to this first long player. It may not have the devastating power of their live performances, but "Bon Chic Bon Genre" ably demonstrates a goodly percentage of why Campag Velocet are one of the most important new bands in Britain.

Shack/Les Rythmes Digitales/Campag Velocet/Coldplay Cardiff University Student Union 25 January 2000