The grungy French band Talia have garnered a lot of attention since the release of their second full-length album Thugs They Look like Angels. So much so, in fact, that 90s rock legend Paul Westerberg teamed up with them recently on their most recent single, “Bastards of Young.”
Talia are part of a small faction of bands in Europe and the U.S. who are making a bid to bring the aggressive, analog rock sound of the 90s back to the current EDM-saturated indie scene. Their sound is grunge-driven and frenetic, not dissimilar to that of early Soul Asylum, for whom they coincidentally opened at The Whisky in Los Angeles last year. This may have been what led Westerberg to take notice
The first single from Thugs They Look Like Angels, “American Bride”, introduced uninitiated fans to the fast-paced, punk-driven grunge of Talia via the feedback-heavy guitar and wispy vocal from Nicolas Costa. It apparently gained notice from many current and past grunge stars, including one of the 90s’ most decorated tastemakers of the genre, Paul Westerberg. It’s unclear how the collaboration began, but on August 29th the French band quietly released “Bastards of Young”, written and produced by the prodigal son of grunge himself.
It seems that Westerberg did the lion’s share of the guitar work on “Bastards of Young”, which stands to reason. Westerberg is so well known in the 90s grunge scene because of his highly technical guitar work, which is generally not a feature of the genre. The vocals are quite clearly from Talia’s singer and guitarist, Nicolas Costa, though it’s again unclear as to whether Costa or Westerberg wrote the lyrics. The tone of the song also definitively leans towards Westerberg’s unique honky tonk style of grunge, reflected in his lead guitar so well it’s as if the 90s were still right here. The marriage gets interesting with the combination of Westerberg’s lighthearted guitars and Costa’s more serious grunge voice, creating a sound that is neither throwback nor modern, just good solid indie rock.
If Talia’s sophomore album was overlooked upon first release, Thugs They Look Like Angels is definitely worth another listen, especially if they’re picking up collabs with the likes of Paul Westerberg and playing for Soul Asylum. Is there a true movement to save analog rock, and specifically grunge? It seems so, if Westerberg and Talia have anything to say about it.
“Bastards of Young” as well as the entirety of Thugs They Look Like Angels are out now and available to stream or buy on Talia’s Bandcamp page. Check out their YouTube channel for a number of stirring videos, including “American Bride” and their high-energy performance at The Whisky.