If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nouvelle Vague must be new wave and bossa nova's biggest admirers -- and it hasn't gone unnoticed. On NV3, the group performs some of its suave covers of new wave and post-punk classics with some of the era's stars, and the results embody the best and the worst of the rest of the album. Ian McCulloch fits seamlessly into "All My Colors," a typically pretty, wistful Nouvelle Vague track, while Barry Adamson's sneering cool makes a noir version of Magazine's "Parade" the album's standout. However, the group's version of "Master and Servant" -- which features a Jew's harp and Martin Gore's booming baritone on the chorus -- feels overdone, and not even Terry Hall's cameo can save "Our Lips Are Sealed"'s transformation into a pastoral reverie from seeming a bit silly. Elsewhere, Nouvelle Vague struggle to balance their fondness for kitsch with deeper emotions, and inspired touches with their usual formula. "Blister in the Sun" is wittily transformed into a ye-ye rave-up and "Road to Nowhere" is turned into an alt-country ramble, but making "God Save the Queen" and "Ça Plane Pour Moi" singsongy and delicate isn't especially clever at this point. Despite the occasional misstep, NV3 still has some gorgeous moments, especially the flamenco-tinged "Not Knowing" and the closing track, "Such a Shame." This is a decidedly mixed bag, but there are enough lovely and playful tracks to keep most Nouvelle Vague fans satisfied.
Heather Phares, Rovi