Review: French Kicks – Two Thousand

French Kicks occupy an uneasy position in New York indie scene. Lacking the detached cool of Interpol, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs or The Walkmen, instead they play music seemingly intended for people with feelings. ‘Two Thousand’ was released in the US in 2006 but only seemed to be available on import for UK listeners. A shame because ‘The Trial Of The Century’, their second album was one of my favourite records of 2004.

‘So Far We Are’ is a lively, promising way to begin the record and the good form continues for ‘Also Ran’; featuring the unashamedly high-pitched harmonies that have been one of the trademarks of the band’s career thus far. ‘Cloche’ is the one song which does sound a bit like The Walkmen thanks to its heavily reverbed guitar as well as its romantic delivery and there’s a lovely chiming melody underscoring ‘Knee High’, one of those songs you would quite happily languish in for at least another five minutes. Alas, Nick Stumpf and co. can’t keep up the songwriting quality on a record that is seriously front-loaded.

For ‘Keep It Amazed’ the drums are mixed too much in the foreground as if it’s a demo, ‘No Mean Time’ revolves around a monotonous keyboard “hook” and the second half of the album adds up to nothing more than unremarkable soft rock. Only ‘England Just Will Not Let You Recover’ is worthy of redemption, largely because of its experimental studio trickery; doubtless influenced by one of their heroes, The Beach Boys.

In a way it’s understandable to see why ‘Two Thousand’ didn’t get a UK release and the title of the England-referencing song seems to accept this fact. Not only are they fairly unknown on these shores anyway but the album lacks the emotional gravitas of past releases. Nevertheless their well-received latest album ‘Swimming’ could prove to be another belated import purchase for me.

Web Sites:
French Kicks Official Site
French Kicks MySpace

Further Listening:
Magic Bullets, The Walkmen

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