Les Calamités Encore! 1983–1987 LP

LES CALAMITÉS are too often reduced to having been “the French GO-GO’S”—three teenage girls with guitars (plus a boy drummer) who rejected the plastic excess of mid-’80s new wave in favor of sugary (power) pop and ’60s girl group-styled harmonies. But the GO-GO’S started out as bona fide L.A. punks, even if those roots were obscured in their sound, while LES CALAMITÉS might as well have emerged from an almost entirely pre-punk world of early twist-and-shout rock’n’roll, sock hop shimmies, and mod garage beat; “the French DELMONAS” would probably be more accurate. Encore! gathers all sixteen tracks from their modest discography (an LP, a couple of singles, and a comp cut), plus a song each from French rockers DOGS and English garage outfit the BARRACUDAS featuring LES CALAMITÉS backing vocals; it’s a tidy primer on these filles dans le garage, even if it doesn’t add anything new to the story. Those GO-GO’S comparisons come most clearly into focus on “Le Supermarché,” “Pas la Peine,” and “Toutes Les Nuits,” all of which nail that ebullient Beauty and the Beat bounce, and just as the DELMONAS did, there’s a handful of CALAMITÉS-ized takes on choice ’60s cuts, further paying tribute to some of their obvious inspirations—the WHO’s “The Kids Are Alright” sped up as an ecstatic jangler, the AD-LIBS’ doo wop classic “The Boy From New York City” translated into French and given a yé-yé spin, a gender-swapped version of the TROGGS’ bubblegum garage nugget “With a Girl Like You.” C’est un délice.