Les Sans Cullotes-or "those without underpants"-could easily be confused for a Parisian band from the 1960s. Their use of harmonized vocals, three-chord guitar riffs, quirky synthesizers, and thumping backbeats on Fixation Orale demonstrates serious comprehension of French ye-ye pop. The fact that the band hails from Brooklyn, NY and that only one of its seven members has French lineage can be surprising to a first-time listener.
Fixation Orale is a fascinatingly likable pop album. The music transports the listener to the quiet St. Denis streets or to the boisterous and smoky Cannes clubs of the care-free and somewhat innocent mid-1960s. The tracks have the bite of a Southern California garage band ("Allô, Allô"), the debonair subtleness of Edith Piaf ("Tout va Bien"), and the humor of that old roommate of yours who went to art school ("Téléphone Douche").
That humor is permeated throughout the record and it's one of the staples of the Cullotes' live shows. Fixation Orale has 10 tracks sung in French, one in English, and one in Esperanto. Most of the pieces make no sense in any language, for example "La souris noire mangé le fromage blanc, le gros chat mangé la petite souris, le méchant garçon chasse le vilain chat, la belle maman fessé le garçon stupide" (or "the black mouse eats the white cheese, the fat cat eats the little mouse, the mean boy chases the evil cat, the good mother spanks the stupid boy"), from the first single "Allô, Allô," which mostly talks about a couple's admiration for each other. The album is peppered with such little nuggets of bad syntax.
In French lore, a "sans cullote" is a Revolution-era soldier whose poor dress is no suggestion of his bravery. Indeed, these go-go boots-clad art school dropouts put on a bold show in Fixation Orale.