A friend of mine described Prototypes (pronounced Pro-tow-TEEP, if you want to sound like a Frenchie) as the French Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and based on this compilation of songs from the band’s first two albums (2004’s Tout Le Monde Cherche Quelque Chose and Mutants Mediatiques, released in January), that assessment is pretty spot-on. It’s more about attitude, even though the band members do take part in the same slam-down dance punk and yeah-yeah shouts as their American counterparts do. The comparisons seem more coincidental than intentional, as if Prototypes is merely a product of a similar situation as opposed to a group of wannabes. And the music — which mixes dance-punk with everything from the ye-ye girls of the ’60s such as Francoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan to Brit-poppers such as Pulp and Saint Etienne — speaks for itself.
Opener “Je Ne Te Connais Pas” (“I Don’t Know You”) is a hand-clappin’, foot- stompin’ dance-floor grinder. Singer Isabelle LeDoussal’s voice can be both sultry and snotty, and it has the je ne sais quoi to draw listeners in, regardless of whether or not they understand French. “Danse Sur La Merde” (“Dance to the Shit”) is another adrenaline-pumping number, with these lines: “Danse sur la merde/ qui passé la radio” (“Dance to the shit/ on the radio”). It’s a sentiment that most aficionados of underground music can relate — and dance — to. The rest of the compilation follows suit: it’s full of catchy, head-bobbing tunes that may have you hunting down the full import versions of these albums before you can say “Mais oui.”