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The French group Yelle's bubbling dance-pop sound and stunning visuals led to them being one of the most innovative and enjoyable groups of their era. Featuring the effervescent vocals of Julie Budet backed by a musical approach that warped dance and pop norms into something all their own, the band debuted with the late-2000s classic Pop-Up, then continued to release high-spirited singles and strong albums. After working with Dr. Luke on the mainstream pop-leaning Complètement Fou in 2014, they returned in 2020 with L'Ère du Verseau, an album that dialed back the fun in favor of a more thoughtful approach. Even so, the band continued to be nothing less than a technicolor burst of dancefloor-ready joy. The group was founded in 2005 when longtime friends Julie Budet (who took the stage name Yelle) and Jean-François Perrier (known as GrandMarnier) decided it was time to start a band. Their first single, "Short Dick Cuizi," a scathing slam of French rapper Cuizinier, was posted on MySpace in 2005 and became a minor sensation. After some lyrical adjustments and a title change (to "Je Veux Te Voir"), the song was the duo's first official single in 2006 and became a Top Five hit in France. After adding Tanguy Destable, also known as Tepr, to their lineup, the trio began work on its debut album. The effervescent Pop-Up was released by Source Records in 2007 after which the band toured and found time to work with Robyn, Nouvelle Vague, and Crookers. In 2008 they were hired to remix Katy Perry's "Hot & Cold." After working virtually nonstop for two years, Safari Disco Club was released in the spring of 2011 on V2 and Downtown Records. Their Katy Perry connection paid off when the singer tapped Yelle to open a few weeks of shows on her Teenage Dream tour. The trio also played over 100 shows on their own all over the world. It was their final tour with Tepr, who left the band before recording for their next album commenced. Thanks again to their Perry connection, as well as the pop hooks of Safari Disco Club, that album came out on Dr. Luke's Kemosabe label. The longtime Perry collaborator signed the band and set them to work in his L.A. studio. The result was the more straightforward pop sound of 2014's Complètement Fou. Along with Dr. Luke, others involved with the writing and production of the album included Canadian producer Cirkut, Tacteel of the French group TTC, and songwriter Alexander Castillo Vasquez. Despite the many cooks, the record retained and amplified the duo's fun-loving, anything-goes left-field pop outlook. The band hit the road for another long tour, then spent the next few years releasing one-off singles: "Ici & Maintenant" in late 2016, "Interpassion" and "Romeo" in 2017, and "OMG!!" in 2018. After more shows, they began work on their fourth album, this time working with a smaller group of collaborators that included old comrade Tepr. A combination of life events and shifting musical perspectives led to the duo crafting a more restrained sound that explored more melancholy and mature territory without giving up much in the way of danceability. L'Ère du Verseau was produced by GrandMarnier and released on Yelle's own Recreation Center label in September of 2020.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo


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