Jul 14, 2008

Swimming-French Kicks

There are great bands (eg. Spoon), there are bands that make you feel great to exist (Wolf Parade), there are bands that get far too much publicity (The Vines). Then there are bands that continually fly under the radar. Minus Story would be one, Aloha would be another. French Kicks are certainly one, and I think it should stop. Now. Their fourth album "Swimming" is a pure pleasure, it's layer after layer of shimmering pop. It's not music to change your life but it will make your life a far happier one. Well crafted melodic tunes will do that to you. And that surely has to be good thing, I would say.

The origins of the four member French Kicks were in the city of Washington, DC. After university the core members of the group moved to New York and the band started to record. They were contemporaries of bands like The Strokes and The Walkmen. Two albums were released and lineups changed before a settled band released "Two Thousand" in 2006, which was sadly under rated (see above). However in 2008, they return with "Swimming", an album of 12 solidly written pop/rock tunes. The band decided to self produce this effort and in the words of bassist Josh Wise " we used a lot of first and second takes and tried to preserve a sense of immediacy and discovery that comes from putting things down before you really have a chance to think too hard". It has proved successful, the album is a joyous, summery effort. It glistens and shines quite effortlessly, providing an uplifting atmosphere. "Abandon" starts the joy with its hand clap start and strident drumming, before giving way to the lush vocals of Nick Stumpf. Stumpf's vocals are certainly a feature of this record. His voice glides across nearly every track (Wise takes lead on 4 songs), its delectable tones being a total comfort for the ears. Also a feature are the guitars. They pulsate and romp through each track with an admirable certainty, backed up a potent drum kit. This is heard to good effect on "Carried Away", which has an exquisite melody and honest charm. Other stand out tracks are the metronomic "New Man", the pop perfection of "Said So What" and the delirious "Love In The Ruins". If there is a weakness to "Swimming", it's probably the similarity between each track. Although each one has a well crafted melody inside of it, they are not remarkably different. But the overall sound is so enjoyable, I am not about to start complaining.

MP3: Abandon-French Kicks

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