Please! – If there’s one thing you view whilst musing over the pages of Velvet Thunder tonight, I urge you to watch the two zany videos appended to these brave words! This could just be the wackiest release of 2022! Ouh La La is the creation of four entertaining, loopy, thirty-somethings with a weird taste in clothes who decided to create some seriously bonkers music together. They formed in 2015 in Brest, France, the foursome known as Tranzat having previously released Hellish Psychedelia in 2016 and The Great Disaster in 2018.
Let me say at the outset that Ouh La La is a hugely entertaining collection of songs, digging through genres, subgenres, and subgenres of subgenres to offer an honest, eclectic, unpredictable and playful selection, whose lyrics deal with universal themes in the most grotesque ways! Let me repeat – this lot are genuinely and endearingly weird! There’s hints of Linkin Park, Faith No More, Opeth, even Mastodon on their latest offering, a surprisingly heavy beast given the cute “mom and apple pie” nature of the cover photos! But nothing could prepare you for the videos!! – Not one, but two doses of absolutely bonkers, hugely entertaining, zany, going on downright “Marvel-lous” images married to some seriously good, heavy, post-rock! Just watch and try not to laugh out loud – I can’t!
Tranzat are Manuel Liegard (Guitar & Vocals); Nicolas Galakhoff (Bass); Benjamin Arbellot (Guitar); and Thomas Coïc (Drums). They have an inate visual goofiness that doesn’t seem to fit with the often heavyweight nature of the vibes. Singer Manuel strongly reminds me of Julian Falco from a similarly wacky band, 21 Taras from Colorado in the US. He has the same rich mix of honeyed baritone with frankly psychotic overtones!, ranging from high-pitched howls, snide cackling, softly imploring, bubbling bellowing!
The nine tracks all display a gift for The Unexpected, with innumerable little musical twists and turns incorporated into “relatively” straight-forward heavy post-rock arrangements. I say “relatively”, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the like of the “burbling vocals” around the two-minute mark in the opening Shall We Dance! Given this is a seriously meaty track that takes no prisoners, the contrast says everything about this band! Likewise Lobster Beaujolais, introduced with background restuarant sounds, a touch of Mozart playing in the background, a tap on the glass and a quiet sigh of anticipation as the “presumed crustacean” is brought forth…. before the foursome kick in with a tight, pacey, Metal approach to tale-telling! Twitchy, scarey, totally endearing!
Mr.Awesome is next, a gently crooned intro making you wonder what’s coming next! You’re not disappointed, simply surprised by the melodious alt-rock tune that follows. Let me be clear, this is quality rock! This is followed by the wonderfully titled Climbing Tibetan Mountains to Learn the Secrets of the Mind, another blast of almost stadium-filling alt-rock that manages to combine anthemic guitar work and vocals with Monkish chanting in the bridge section! Not often I get to say that! As the track builds, so does the fever pitch of Manuel’s vocals, not unlike Linkin Park’s late great Chester Bennington.
And the tunes just keep coming! Lord Dranula is a spoof on you-know-who, the stomping art-rock arrangement being augmented by one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen! Disguised under all this nonsense though is some great fluid guitar work, and some seriously tight quartet work – these guys are actually seriously competent, for all their tom-foolery! Morning Glory follows, this could be Sabbath with its brain-crunching chords – except that Manuel chooses to sing parts of this almost like an opera singer before the more conventional howls and groans take over.
My Dear Washer, has some classic screamed vocals, tumultuous guitar solos, but connected with and ending with some pieces of soft, gentle loveliness, still peppered with a touch of scream. Pillow Fight boasts a beautiful solo, sadly short but so tasty, within what is quite a dark, heavy track. Global Warning brings the opus to a close, it’s comparatively long, at nearly nine minutes long it containd some gorgeously elegaic, echoing pieces of guitar interspersed with some famous spoken lines from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Mostly, it’s another great slab of quality, heavy alt-rock in a tuneful Linkin Park style, alternating with what you might describe as genuinely classic rock, this last track sounds actually quite bleak until the ending crescendo.
These guys are complicated! There’s lots of passion and carefully crafted music in here, with plenty of individual highpoints; and for all the levity and genuinely funny, creative, stories and visual images, you get the feeling there’s much much more to them than meets the eye. I’m totally fascinated, I’m going to have to catch up with their earlier work and I cant imagine what they might come up with next! This album though stands on its own eight feet as a serious artistic experience!