Duplex adj twofold, double; having two complementary polynucleotide strands of DNA or of DNA and RNA; noun building, two-unit apartment building/condominium; TGV duplex (a French high speed train featuring bi-level cartridges); a common electrical receptacle with two NEMA type 5 connector plugs; moth (genus); type of stainless steel; nucleic acid double helix, a double-stranded molecule of DMA or RNA; herpes zoster duplex unilaterlis; US film starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore; unsigned French rock band.

You can’t hear Duplex on the radio, you can’t hear them anywhere you go, but they sound scorching hot to me, just like Wilco’s imaginary band the Kay-Settees would possibly sound. My curly-haired girlfriend has re-affirmed this in my mind by volunteering her Anglicized approval on overhearing them, despite the vocals being in French; for an uninitiated rosbif to like French music without any obvious association to a particular French experience takes some doing because the form can have a tendency to be impenetrable or just plain rubbish.

a photo of French pop-rock band Duplex playing live music on stage

Yes, French pop and rock music has a reputation outside of France for being, on the whole, a little patchy (I’m being polite) and thoroughly domestic (i.e. it doesn’t export very well) but now and again there’s a few artists or bands that break through with limited effect – Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, Vanessa Paradis and Phoenix are commonly acknowledged for their music (and other things) outside of France, but generally there’s an impasse because of the language. The French can however surprise and one of the greatest gigs I saw was in France, albeit by the (American) Strokes, at the Mutalité in Paris; the band fed off the edgy mob of the French mosh-pit, both barely in control. Sometimes I think the rest of the world is missing out because there is some great Gallic music; Jean-Louis Aubert’s Telephone for example came and went without much outside recognition and they were rather good. Duplex are something like Telephone, updated for the 21st century; a modern French-American hybrid which, as the curly-headed one has demonstrated, you can appreciate without necessarily being a francophone.

Duplex are currently unsigned, just like the Kay-Settees (“the best band will never get signed/so good you won’t ever know”) but they should be, and soon, preferably in time so that we can hear them on the French autoroutes when we’re speeding down to Ile de Ré for the summer. Their music has the edge to encourage you to put your foot down on the accelerator and flip the bird to the gendarmes as you speed past them, moustaches flapping in your jet-stream.

The stated aim of Duplex is to create French rock through a mix of the electric with American energy and production. They’ve nailed it, and the titles – Ca Ne Me Suffit Pas, Je M’efface, Turbulences, are a good indication of the songs themselves, proclamations of 3-minute-something bursts of high energy punk rock. They’ve even got a female bass player with sexy long legs; my kind of heaven.


Duplex are: Gaspard Murphy, Tom Daveau, Ariel Loh, Amaury Belair, Florence David. Find them Facebook and Myspace.