European cool was born in black and white.
Think of Chantal Goya looking demure in Masculin Feminin, Anna Karina in Alphaville, or early footage of Françoise Hardy.
Their images were captured with a wide tonal range and fixed in silver salts by the photographers and film-makers of the 50s and 60s. Their youth, culture and bearing formed an iconic style that is sadly remote from the graffiti-, filler- and golden toothed-culture of modern film and music.
All has not been abandoned to the pages of nostalgic fashion editorials, however. Julian & Marina keep the spirit alive with For Beautiful People Only, their new album.
Recorded in Stockholm, FBPO channels the perfumed air of Riviera bars and the sensuality of Anita Ekberg refreshing in a Roman fountain. From the strings of the opening, title track, the listener is transported to a lounge stocked with more crystal than Kristal. The voices of Julian Brandt and Marina Schiptjenko float effortlessly over proceedings, as a soundtrack to romantic meetings or a pause between cocktails.
Everyone needs “Someone to Cling To,” and particularly with the PSB-style of Julian & Marina’s production. Liza wouldn’t struggle to keep pace with the song’s minor key touches, and the Malcolm McLaren of Fans and Paris would have found a lot to appreciate in the classy electronics, as well.
“Hello Darling” finds Schiptjenko rapping verses in front of a funky bass line while Brandt leads on the choruses. It is solid state pop for the post-transistor generation.
“The Saddest Girl to Ever Hold a Bellini” invites the listener to leave the party for a little walk under the moonlight, but don’t forget your sunglasses.
The PSB influences really come to the fore on “Love on a Summer Night.” You can practically feel the sand between your toes as you carry your shoes along the beach.
Who are the beautiful people? You are. And this is your music.