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April March

Unabashed Francophile and onetime Pee Wee's Playhouse animator April March has invented a persona for herself that's as goofy as Serge Gainsbourg at his silliest and as enticing as Brigitte Bardot at her come-hitherest. As you might have guessed from the preceding comparisons, April March makes kitschy, infectious French pop, infused with the kind of childlike sexuality that makes married men go weak at the knees. And, as you might have guessed from the word "persona," Ms. March isn't quite the genuine article (how could anyone called April March ever be?).

Rather, she's a New York girl named Elinore Blake who grew up loving all things French and had a first career as a cartoon animator (in addition to working on Pee Wee's Playhouse, she animated for Madonna, Archie Comics, and The Ren and Stimpy Show). In the late '80s and early '90s she played in a couple of retro-garage groups, The Pussywillows and The Shitbirds, before adopting the April March pseudonym. Over the course of a half-dozen releases, March has developed her pixieish image, delivering delightfully sweet go-go pop with charming insouciance and joie de vivre. Oh -- and most of it's in French.

There's something very weird and postmodern about this April March character, but don't think about that; instead, let yourself be carried away by her gravity-defying melodies. If you close your eyes, she sounds like the reincarnations of Audrey Hepburn and Edith Piaf, rolled up into one extremely exotic, hip, oh-so-sexy pop package.

The jazzy, super-quirky "Chick Habit" was April March's first single (it's in English). The song later appeared on the 15-song Paris in April, which came out in '96 on Sympathy For The Record Industry. Ms. March has also appeared in a more garage-rock context with The Makers on April March Sings the Songs of the Makers and a more surf-pop context with Los Cincos on April March and Los Cincos. In 1998, a collaboration with French arranger and producer Bertrand Burgalat led to two more albums dense with giddy, trippy pop delights: Lessons of April March (1998) and Chrominance Decoder (1999).