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Best of Family Fodder's Savoir Faire

Imagine a perfect world. An unpretentious world in which the Talking Heads survived Brian Eno's production overload without slipping into smarmy lite-ness. A just world, in which David Byrne was shot before he ditched dark nerdiness for dippy Afro-funk. A beautiful world, in which the French pop singer from Stereolab came to the rescue in the nick of time. Wishful thinking, I'm sure. But Family Fodder's Savoir Faire keeps reality at bay and makes you wonder why the new wave canon doesn't give the band a single mention.

On Savoir Faire, Family Fodder fills out the Heads' twitchy punk trappings: guitar is supplemented by prepared piano and tape loops. Instead of Byrne's trapped-cat vocals, the motley Fodder chants and sings discordant multi-part harmonies. Eno crushed the Heads' rickety minimalism with too much aural cargo. There's no such concern with Fodder, because their diversity isn't an afterthought--it's pure dada, from the basement on up.

Don't get me wrong--Fodder's Sally Pearce can write songs. "Dinosaur Sex" is as epic as its title, a percussive, joyous slog through the swamps. "Tragicomedy" is an accordion serenade about bizarre love triangles gone horribly wrong ("Then one of us died/ The audience split their sides/ And laughed till they cried").

The centerpiece of the album is a Blondie-themed pair. At first, their jalepeño-bubblegum cover of "Sunday Girl" is all sun and surf, until it collapses into something a crazier Brian Wilson might dream up. Then comes "DEBBIE HARRrY," in which Dominique Levillain squeals "Deborah Harry, I'm having your baby" in her gorgeous French accent. "No Exit," eat your heart out.

Why do some bands make awful comeback albums, and others never have fame to come back to? In a perfect world, it wouldn't even be a question. (Dark Beloved Cloud)

--Sam Frank

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