One of France’s most respected pop acts, Les Innocents were a jangly pop band that released four albums between 1989 and 1999, all of which displayed its leaders’ (J.P. Nataf and Jean-Christophe Urbain) fine songwriting skills and musical craftsmanship. Their career was boosted in 1987 by the success of their “Jodie” single, and their first three LPs spawned many other hits, from “Colore” to “Un Autre Finistère.” Though those first LPs (1989’s Cent Metres au Paradis, 1992’s Fous à Lier, and 1995’s Post Partum) sealed the band’s popularity, the commercial failure of their fourth and last LP (1999’s Les Innocents) initiated a separation process, J.P. Nataf going solo to explore new musical and lyrical territories. A career-spanning compilation was released in 2003 (Meilleurs Souvenirs), and ten years after their last studio recording, rumors of a reunion tour spread. They re-formed in 2015 and released Mandarine.

Comprendrais-tu ma belle
Qu’un jour, fatigué
J’aille me briser la voix
Une dernière fois
À cent-vingt décibels
Contre un grand châtaignier
D’amour pour toi?

Would you understand it, my beauty,
If one day, worn out,
I went and broke my voice
For the last time
At 120 decibels
Against a tall chestnut tree
Out of love for you?

Trouverais-tu cruel
Que le doigt sur la bouche
Je t’emmène, hors des villes
En un fort, une presqu’île
Oublier nos duels
Nos escarmouches
Nos peurs imbéciles ?

Would you deem it cruel
That with a finger on my lips
I take you away from the cities,
To a fort, a peninsula
To forget about our duels,
Our skirmishes
Our stupid fears?

On irait y attendre
La fin des combats
Jeter aux vers, aux vautours
Tous nos plus beaux discours
Ces mots qu’on rêvait d’entendre
Et qui n’existent pas
Y devenir sourd

We would go there to wait
For the end of the fights,
Throwing to worms, to vultures
All our best speeches,
These words we were dreaming to hear
And that don’t exist
We would go deaf


Il est un estuaire
À nos fleuves de soupirs
Où l’eau mêle nos mystères
Et nos belles différences
J’y apprendrai à me taire
Et tes larmes retenir
Dans cet autre Finistère
Aux longues plages de silence

There is an estuary
For our rivers of sighs
Where water blends our mysteries
And our beautiful mismatches
There I would learn to keep quiet
And prevent your tears from flowing
In this other Finistère
With its wide silent beaches

Bien sûr on se figure
Que le monde est mal fait
Que les jours nous abîment
Comme de la toile de Nîmes
Qu’entre nous, il y a des murs
Qui jamais ne fissurent
Que même l’air nous opprime

Of course we reckon
That the world is unfair
That days wear us down
Like the “canvas of Nîmes” [unknown meaning; Nîmes rhymes with abîment]
That between us stands a wall
Which never cracks
That even the air oppresses us

Et puis on s’imagine
Des choses et des choses
Que nos liens c’est l’argile
Des promesses faciles
Sans voir que sous la patine
Du temps, il y a des roses
Des jardins fertiles

And then we imagine
Things and things
That our bonds are clay
The cheap promises
Ignoring than beneath the patina
Of time, there are roses and
Fertile gardens


Car là-haut dans le ciel
Si un jour je m’en vais
Ce que je voudrais de nous
Emporter avant tout
C’est le sucre, et le miel
Et le peu que l’on sait
N’être qu’à nous

Because up there in the sky
If one day I go away
What I would like (for us)
Is to carry above all
The sugar and honey
And the few things we know
That only belong to us