Hooking up with regular Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard as the co-producer of this album proved to be just the trick for Ferry. Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry's post-Roxy solo career, adding enough energy to make it more than Boys and Girls part two. Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy, and Leonard adds more than a few tricks that keep the pep up. Five out of the nine songs are Ferry/Leonard collaborations; all succeed, from "Limbo"'s opening punch and flow to the cinematic (and unsurprisingly French-tinged) feeling of the title track. The atmospheric, almost chilling "Zamba"'s minimal, buried drums, soft synths and doomy piano, make it the best of that bunch. Ferry's best moment here is all his own, though – the great single "Kiss and Tell," with a steady, bold bassline leading the way for his slightly dissolute portrayal of mating rituals and all they entail. Like Boys and Girls, the album's supporting cast mixes a lengthy list of session pros with a few guest stars.
Bigelf are sort of the white version of Lenny Kravitz. They're astoundingly accurate rock revivalists in terms of songwriting, instrumentation, and recording techniques. They also cobble together styles that in their heyday would never have co-existed: Hendrix-ish blues, Beatlesque pop, Floydian psychedelia. Unlike Kravitz, however, Bigelf are much more sonically daring. They specialize in blowing up basic germs of ideas into Technicolor fantasies light years away from their origins. "Superstar," for example, begins with terse, standard-issue AC/DC chords, then flowers into bright pop changes and lush vocal harmonies.