Über Noir Désir
It's all too rare that a rock band can maintain cultural relevance 20 years after its debut -- but that's just what France's Noir Desir have done. Formed in 1980 by disaffected Bordeaux youth Bertrant Cantat, the band had a desultory career at the outset: for years they were in and out of bars, playing more for their own amusement than with any kind of professional aim in sight. A 1987 EP hinted at their future mix of punk-era passion and poetry, but 1989's Sombre Heros sealed the deal: "Aux Sombres Heros de l'Amer" cracked France's Top-50, and the band entered a creative phase that saw them touring the world and releasing three well-received albums. After 1994's Colere, the group disbanded for a time. Cantat and guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay reunited in 1997, released the enigmatically titled 666.667 Club, and played a series of dates. But the group's crowning release, 2001's Des Visages, Des Figures, left a better tase in fans' mouths, striking an enviable balance between Gallic melancholy (and melody) and rock attitude. (Manu Chao added guitar to the hit "Le Vent Nous Portera.") Though rarely explicitly leftist in their songs, the group has, through the years, become a favorite of leftists for their pro-immigrant, pro-refugee stance and their defiance of the growing right-wing movement in France.