On January 25th, Bleu Jeans Bleu released their third album, Perfecto. The songwriting and production make it an instant favorite!
2014 was the last time I met Mathieu Lafontaine, the mastermind behind Bleu Jeans Bleu. The band’s first album, Haute Couture (Gold) had just been issued into the world with great success. Prior to this, Mathieu had been issuing music as Matt Track, a folk/rock project, where he sang in English. Bleu Jeans Bleu was a complete departure from Matt Track. It also meant the birth of his alter ego, Claude Cobra, an all-Jeans-wearing goofy character singing about baby cats, speedboats and junk food!
In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the famous story about a doctor finding a way to transform himself into a hideous creature to indulge his vices without fear of detection. While Claude Cobra is no evil, as the years went by, he grew stronger and now has completely taken over Lafontaine’s musical landscape. Jano Lapin had the privilege of interviewing both Lafontaine and Cobra, a rare feat!
Six years down the line, did Lafontaine think he would still be wearing jeans hats and singing silly tales? “I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t dream about it. I’d be again lying if I told you I knew we would be able to make three records. We just wanted to put out music that made us feel good, but when we realized it gathered so many positive reactions from the public, we wanted to take the project further.”
While the lyrics are as funny as ever, the music has been brought to a whole new level. A slick production, more complex songwriting and even the use of a string quartet! “I always thought that the jokes wouldn’t last long if the music was bad. We always tried to achieve that, but we pushed things a lot further with the arrangements and production on Perfecto. We also had some musical dreams we wanted to achieve. Listening to the final product, I believe we succeeded!”
As mentioned, one unexpected element is the string quartet, aptly baptized the Parasukov Quartet! Metaphorical bookends, the magnificent arrangements by composer Marianne Houle hold the album together in the first and last songs of the record. The band already tried something similar for a special version of Petit Pudding (from the album Franchement Wow | see video below), they liked the result so much, they had to repeat the experience. Adds Mathieu, “The result is singularly epic. I love the duality of having little Claude Cobra losing his voice trying to keep up with the beauty of the music as the album sunsets.”
But, more importantly, what did Mr. Cobra think of being backed by a string quartet? “I felt like I was in the middle of a Dallas episode. It was silky and smelled like beige leather!”
Making a statement
As much as they like having strings being part of their sound, it was also important to make a statement. “Bleu Jeans Bleu is not always taken seriously because of the concept and our constant efforts to add layers of absurdity in what we do. Using strings was one of many ways to say: we may be singing about eating French fries and line dancing, but it’s no fast food music, there’s a lot of work that goes in the songwriting!”
A definite highlight (and my personal favorite) on the album is Veux-tu jouer un bowling? The song is written from the perspective of a girl who’s secretly in love with a boy and dreams of asking him out. She visualizes the two of them together, playing bowling and French kissing. As goofy as it is, the songwriting is so perfect that you feel for that little girl and want her to succeed in her quest to get the boy that she loves. Says Mathieu “It’s also one of my favorite lyrics. I initially wrote this song only to scream out loud « Veux-tu jouer un bowling? », but I quickly fell in love with writing about what this teenager dreamt of. If she had the courage to ask this guy to go out, what would be her perfect evening. Musically, it’s a bit late-70’s classic rock which adds a dramatic feeling to the story!”
The band is on a roll and has no intention to stop. Claude Cobra has definitely taken over Mathieu Lafontaine, at least for the time being. “We really have a lot of fun with this project, so as long as the fans are listening and coming to the shows, we’re going full steam ahead!”
Threat yourself (all-dressed, of course!) with Bleu Jeans Bleu’s Perfecto here! You won’t regret it, it’s their best one yet. There, I said it!!
Bonus | Perfecto-themed Q&A with Claude Cobra
Q: What happened after you became Le King de la danse en ligne? Are girls on dating apps impressed by your moves and cooking talent?
A: It really works! The girls are going berserk. One should never underestimate the power of a tasty banana bread!
Q: What’s the cheesiest thing (Phrase Fromagée) you said to a girl?
A: « Je suis ton achigan, tu es ma truite grise » from C’est en speedboat que Je t’aime.
Q: Your favorite Sports Bar?
A: A Sports Bar called Pub Sportif in New-Brunswick. When we have our softball tournament over there, I go there for breakfast/lunch/dinner. I always order the same thing: pitchers of beer and chicken wings!
Q: Which song is the best on Perfecto « Des ailes de poulet » or « D’la bière en pichet »?
A: Another version called « Yeah » that’s not on the album!
Q: What kind of meat gives the best « parfum de grill »?
A: A thick slice of bologna marinated in Diana sauce.
Q: The best jeans?
A: Are you serious? COBRA, without the shadow of a boat!
Q: What’s not made of jeans but should be?
A: The roof of the Olympic Stadium…we would never have had any problems!
CPA (although he doesn’t want people to know about it — oops!). Francophone and Francophile, he has a dream of bringing Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.