July 27, 2006

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French Kicks, Two Thousand
Vagrant Records, 2006

The other week we went over the musical equivalent of lead-flavored tapwater that's just been released by Keane. Sad, really — if that record had possessed half the soul of this one it might have made for a not unremarkable summer. Many of French Kicks' sounds are similar — indie icing on a U2 cake on "So Far We Are" for example — but seven years into it, this lot, one of NYC's better alt-pop-escapists, are knocking out far grabbier material. If Oasis were an amped-up Beatles, this would be a standout Lennon solo LP; it lays flighty brit-pop vocals over friendly beach-run keyboards ("Also Ran," "Knee High"), jammy nods to Calexico ("Cloche") and somber altie jangle that's almost as magnificent as Clinic ("Keep It Amazed"). The feel is rarely hard unless you typically find yourself pounding the steering wheel to the Lilys; engineering-wise they've tried to emulate Charlie Watts' snare from the days of "Get Off My Cloud" and paired that with subtle laptop lines that are at once retro and next-week. B+

— Eric W. Saeger


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