Sparkling boy/girl foursome Beat Mark are one of a small slew of English-sung French independent bands (see PMs Better, Hey Hey My My) drawing influences from British 80s independent bands, in this case weighing very heavily towards north of the border. Imagine the Pastels getting into a jangly shambolic brawl with the Vaselines and you have the makings of a retro yet timeless offering in their debut album Howls of Joy.
With echoes ranging from surf pop to doo-wop, this is 13 well crafted, short bursts of effortless cool–a manic pop thrill if you will. Released on Cornershop’s brilliant Ample Play label – fast becoming one of the finest independent labels in the UK – it may wear its influences heavily on its well worn sleeve, but these are timeless classic songs, drenched in analogue reverb which gives a gloriously effortless under-produced feel, bursting with massive tunes and gorgeous pop harmonies. It’s the sound of adolescent sex and drunken summer skinny dips – Love at First Sight and Cool Fur especially feel like Phil Spector’s 60s teenage hymns to lost love and lust. Beat Mark recreates a sound we’ve known, loved and missed, all the best parts of early Creation and Postcards records with a knowing nod and wink to the towering greats to whom those labels were historically indebted. If this is the way French pop is heading – and I do hope it is – prepare for a revolution en masse.