French Kicks

While other New York bands write historical fiction based in the smoky barrooms of the New Wave era, French Kicks are engaged in a romantic fantasy that takes place in the studio. Indie music, much less rock in general, is rarely so produced and resolutely hi-fi as The Trial of the Century -- each of the album's 11 mini-symphonies unwinds with the precision of aesthetes who are also certifiable musicians.

The clearest concessions to the nostalgia prevalent in the NYC rock scene are the wiry guitar work and Bryan Ferry-ish croons of leaders Matt Stinchcomb and Josh Wise. But the banks of hushed harmonies, clickety percussive experiments, piano, found sounds and ambient trills of warm synth are no less literal than the actual good vibrations they create -- and the resulting bejeweled hooks are closer to a simple pleasure than you'll get from the likes of Interpol. The lyrics, which are personal rambles, don't interfere with the sense of luxurious sonic hedonism that pervades the music. Still apt is the question that's always asked of fantasy -- namely "What is this relevant to?" -- as is the answer: "Nothing, and what of it?"


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