April March (nee Elinor Blake) grew up in a Francophile household in New York: she was speaking French by the time she was three, and Edith Piaf and Francoise Hardy got as many spins on the stereo as the Beatles and the Stones. Hence her strange musical career: although her first band was the neo-girl-group the Pussywillows and she’s played with garage acts including the Shitbirds and the Makers, she started making French retro-pop records as a solo artist in the mid-90s. Chick Habit (Sympathy for the Record Industry), a 1995 tribute to Serge Gainsbourg and the horn-driven ye-ye sound of the 60s, predated by several years the mass rediscovery of Gainsbourg by stateside hipsters. In ’96 she met French producer Bertrand Burgalat, who soon signed her to his Tricatel label. Her 1998 album, Chrominance Decoder (released in the U.S. the following year on a short-lived imprint owned by the Dust Brothers), is a middling effort, an overly slick hybrid of exotica and ye-ye with a style-to-substance ratio unacceptable even under the circumstances. She’s made significant progess, however, on her new Triggers (released here by PIAS America): it’s not that she’s suddenly become original, but her use of catchier melodies and more contemporary production (a la Stereolab and Saint Etienne) makes it sound like she’s got a grip on her beloved French pop and not the other way around. The Girls open. Sunday, January 25, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.