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Avec Sans – Hold On

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Certain things in pop are like catnip to me – I am always going to have my head turned by a faintly dispassionate female vocal and I can never resist someone who dances behind their keyboard. And I’m an absolute sucker for a proper boy/girl duo, and those, I’m sad to report, are particularly thin on the ground. Since the glory days of Ottawan and Dollar, who have we really had? 2 Unlimited. H & Claire. Same Difference. Not without their charms, granted, but none of them were really for the ages, were they?

This is why I am hugely relieved to have learned of the existence of Avec Sans, a really really exciting pop combo made up of London’s Alice Fox and Trinidad’s (it says here) Jack St James. Alice has a way with faintly dispassionate vocals and Jack jigs about behind his keyboard like he’s having the time of his life. Obviously I love them.

The only reason I found about them at all was due to my attendance at a recent London show by all round brilliant pop star and guest Into the Popvoid writer Bright Light Bright Light. Now, I don’t know about you, but over the years I’ve gone from being an enthusiastic viewer of support acts (this was how I discovered Eternal before everyone else, at a Dina Carroll show) to one who tends to spend more time at the bar before hurtling in when the lights go down. This is obviously shameful behaviour, but I always do my best at Rod’s shows because he has a knack of picking really good people – Milly Blue being another good example.

In the space of about three minutes Avec Sans completely won me over, and Hold On lodged itself firmly in my brain. It has yet to leave.

Hold On will surely come as a thrill to anyone who gets goosebumps at the merest hint of spooky synth action, for this is a glorious, icy riot of electronics led by a woman who is, pleasingly, of similar pop lineage to Sarah from Dubstar, minus the flat vowels. I’ve always found completely electronic music to be far more emotionally involving than any heartfelt ballad – maybe it’s something to do with the way all those pulses and blips race around your body – and Hold On is enormously affecting. It’s urgent, sparse in places and full to bursting in others, and a somehow just a tiny bit worrying, like finding yourself alone in an empty city in the middle of the night. Not a feeling I ever got from D.I.S.C.O. or No Limits.

Excitingly, Avec Sans haven’t even released a proper album yet. That’s all still to come. For now they’re doing everything right – making superior quality pop, playing to people who love them and will – crucially – talk about them. Maybe we’ll yet see them in the charts, with or without Radio 1 support.

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Entered chart: did not chart (yet)

Who could sing this today and have a hit? WELL. One could totally give this to Ellie Goulding and have an enormous smash I suppose, thereby funding another entire album. Maybe it would be worth it.

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