Les Nubians | One Step Forward | Omtown

The name Les Nubians reminds me of lesbians. I mean, all you have to do is remove the “Nu” from their name. And look at that cover. Are they gonna kiss?

Not to burst your bubble, but sisters Helene and Celia Faussart are far from lesbians (but that doesn’t keep me from salivating). They are an amazing, youthful duo whose upbringing in both France and Africa greatly influenced their musical scrapbook.

In terms of genres, Les Nubians bend considerably. Their acclaimed debut five years ago put them on the map as soulful, beautiful singers representing Afro-French R&B and hip hop. The album’s first single, “Temperature Rising,” is the only full on hip hop cut. Talib Kweli appears for half of it and contributes to an immediate dance floor hit. But with a chorus like “…hey hey, feelin’ high, throw your hands up in the sky,” I dare you to look further. The album’s potential has yet to be tapped at this point.

The rest of One Step Forward engages you in an emotional montage, one that follows no set pattern. Tracks range from the danceable “J’Veux d’la musique (tout le temps…)” to the contemplative and airy “Insomnie.” Some people write the French off as frog-lovers, but I think the girls’ vocals act as an aphrodisiac – even if I can’t understand them.

And production is rather intoxicating: a downtempo electronic edge added to an R&B not dumbed down by commercialism. The sisters take the helm of one track and co-produce three – but it is the work of Mounir Belkhir that stands out as top-notch. The last half of the album is quite beautiful, with “Saravah” taking the crown for “Best Track to Make a Little Nubian to.” I just wish I could be the father.

[Mr. Bell loves kids, but especially little Nubians.]