Les Nubians – Nü Revolution | Album Review

Soul Train winning French Hip Hop/R&B duo Les Nubian – made up of sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart – who brought us such hits as “Makeda” and the Grammy Award nominated “Je Veux D’la Musique” in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, return in 2011 after an almost eight-year hiatus with their third studio album. The follow-up to 2003’s sophomore record One Step Forward, Les Nubians return with a well-crafted “new” sound on Nü Revolution, beautifully fusing R&B, Hip-Hop, African Music and World Music elements eloquently for the discerning listener.

The diverse-sounding 14-track album features five guest artists on a record that largely remains Les Nubians true and through no matter how varied and rich the sounds get. The most notable of these features are American Ghanian rapper Blitz The Ambassador on “Les Gens” and Indie-Soul veteran Eric Roberson on “Deja Vous.”

The themes running throughout Nü Revolution are as rich, diverse and varied as the soundscape, whilst remaining well-rounded and organic in feel; from “Afrodance,” which speaks about hair’s relation to your sense of identity and the need to stay true to who you really are whilst seemingly asking you to “shake your afro,” to the album’s title track “Nu Revolution” which calls for a new revolution or as the sisters explain it – the evolution of their dream for a better world and a better self. “Femme Polyandre (Polyandrous Woman)” addresses the complexities and nature of a seemingly polygamous woman, whilst the Barack Obama-inspired “Liberte” serves as a dedication to Martin Luther King.

Delivered in both French and English languages, some of the songs on The Nu Revolution might completely fly over your head but thankfully the musicality and production of these songs – including the sultry “Fraicheur Souhaitee (Desired Freshness)” upon which Les Nubians vocals are so soulful and the beautiful “Vogue Navire (Fashion Vessel)” which is very reminiscent of Sade – still make for greatly enjoyable listens.

Worth mentioning is the album’s intro track; beginning with 2:45 minutes of lush percussions and talking drums instrumentation and arrangements, starting off as a mid-tempo groove before speeding up and ending in a series of thumping sounds which sets you up nicely for your hour-odd long listening experience of this record. Also worth mentioning is Les Nubians’ punchy remake of Manu Dibango’s classic “Soul Makossa” record which the sisters’ have aptly titled “Nu Soul Makossa.”

The album’s closing track – “Africa For The Future” which features seven-piece Afro-pop group/band FreshlyGround – is easily my favorite song on the album. The energetic and infectious up-tempo dance track laced with lush percussion patterns, horn arrangements and glorious hand claps will instinctively get you moving your body while the Les Nubian sisters sing, “move your body, move your body, move your body, Africa for the future.”

All in all, Nü Revolution makes for a strong and welcome return for Les Nubian into the current music landscape. Not only is the album markedly different from what we are and have been used to hearing and a very welcomed change I should add, it is really a very good record however way you slice it – from the rich sounds to the varied themes to the passion and soul that exude from this album. My only qualm, as it were, with this record is that some of the songs on the album hold little replay value for me and while I’ll classify this as a qualm or dissatisfaction, I do put it down to my lack of understanding of the language because while songs like “Vogue Navire” and “Femme Polyandre” are beautifully stunning records as I’ve mentioned above, I can only imagine how much better they’d be to me if I understood the words.

A great re-introduction to the Les Nubians sisters and their “Afropean” revolution.

Les Nubians – Nü Revolution
Released: April 19, 2011
Label: Shanachie
Buy: iTunes (UK) / iTunes (US) / Amazon (UK) / Amazon (US)