[Nov. 22; Sorry State Records]

Release show: Friday, Nov. 22, 9:30 p.m., $8

Nightlight Bar & Club, Chapel Hill

I’ve been listening to Beastie Boys Book, which is worth the price (free, from the North Carolina Digital Library) just for the essay “Beastie Revolution.” Luc Sante’s rhapsodic tour of New York City’s underground music scene circa 1980 richly evokes a time when “every strain of urban music,” from rap to punk, was “folding into a cult of the groove.” 

One wrinkle in that tapestry was post-punk, which fortified punk’s vital simplicity with dub, funk, disco, new wave, critical theory, and avant-garde sensibility. It had an end-times cast and added “angular” to the canon of music-critic clichés. At Tier 3 on West Broadway, Sante writes, UK post-punk bands such as The Raincoats, The Slits, and Young Marble Giants mingled with local ones such as Bush Tetras and “no wave” neighbors like DNA.

Cochonne, which is releasing its self-titled debut on Sorry State Records at Nightlight on November 22, seems to stride right off that page. Naturally, the album is on cassette. The Durham band’s skeletal, bass-driven menace recalls the aforementioned groups (but substitute dance-punk dynamos ESG for guitar manglers DNA), plus poppier ‘90s descendants like Slant 6.

With all the stalking three-note bass lines, anxious guitars, and yelping incantations you could want from such a period piece, the album also has a special sauce: the mock innocence of ‘60s French yé-yé (think Françoise Hardy). 

Cochonne was written and performed by bassist and vocalist Mimi Luse, guitarist Marielle Dutoit, keyboardist Carla Hung, and drummer Hannah Spector, who has since left the band. Recorded to eight-track by Trevor Reece of Drag Sounds, it was mixed by Luse and mastered by Oona Palumbo. It gets down to business with “Omega,” where Luse chants about roach clips and mouthwash, half talking and half singing, half urgent and half bored. Her persona is nihilistic but playful throughout: “Horror-Scope” begins, “Well I don’t care what day you’re born,” which is like the most daring thing you could say in Durham. 

In six concise songs (well, seven—wait for the chatty, funny secret track at the end), Dutoit answers Luse’s arch transgressions with nervy, slicing lines of guitar, smoothed by haunted organ drones and steady drums. The compositions span the elemental, on the sneaky garage-rock anthem “Body Bag,” and the abstruse, on the winding “F21,” which throws shade at wearing Forever 21 at age thirty-three.  

“Mensonge Humain” is sung in French, so I don’t know what it says, but I’m sure it cloaks serious feels in cool irreverence. Luse, half French, has lived in France for her PhD work at Duke; “cochonne” means “female pig” but is also apparently a French porn search term. You get the vibe: smart folks cultivating dark jouissance to fend off our ordinary apocalypse, in a world that has been almost over at least since 1980.