Recording information: Ben, Montreal; Exchange Districts Studios, Winnipeg; Pacha's Palace, Montreal; Studio Chez Frank, Montreal; Studio de l'est, Montreal.
Photographer: Rachel Boese.
The Canadian quintet Chic Gamine used to come with more of a "hook," as their music was delivered by four female vocalists plus a drummer. When it came to influences, Motown and '60s girl groups were stripped down to their essentials, and the music was glorious, but in the five years since their last album, a paradigm shift has occurred with the departure of vocalist Ariane Jean and the addition of multi-instrumentalist (gasp!) Benoit Morier. That's right, basslines, guitars, and plenty of standard issue pop or rock band stuff fill their third album, Light a Match, but that '60s girl group feel is still there, and without the almost a cappella "hook," the focus moves on to the songwriting, which is strong. The excellent title track offers "Started a war you never meant to fight/You found hell lookin' for paradise" with the sound of a deeper Wilson Phillips driven toward scorn thanks to ex-lovers. The two-timing "Girlfriend" sounds like a cursed yet determined version of the Supremes; it's a laundry list of "clever" cheater tactics are cut to the quick by honest lyrics. Speaking of honest, the brilliant "Follow Through" checks the back seat for intruders before heading out for the night, a sad reality of modern romance that rarely makes the pop charts. Even with all this darkness, the album is hardly dreary, as the neon-colored "Night Court" becomes a Pointer Sisters-styled song of seduction, while "All Night" is like early ZZ Top or Alabama Shakes delivered with three-part harmony. Add the angelic closer, "Je Tombe (Where I Fall)," and Light a Match is an excellent album from a group that somehow reinvented themselves while maintaining all their strengths. ~ David Jeffries