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The Trial of the Century by French Kicks

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Reviewed on 4th November 2004.


The Trial of the Century

By French Kicks

The first track of this decidedly melodious album opens up like a blooming flower, with all the passion of The Walkmen and the synth-pop giddiness of Pulp aligned in a wonderful, mind/body/soul-warming manner. With their flawless, shamelessly honest approach to both lyricism and music, French Kicks hit every nerve between ecstasy and heartache.

Characterised by explorations of colour, tone and harmony, created by chiming, restrained guitars, continually underpinned by pulsing rhythms and sweet, sweeping keyboards, this album is a sample of individuality, purity and imagination rolled into one. Both drums and bass are often reminiscent of the Strokes at their most laidback, but continually throb away wistfully in the vein of Air or a lethargic Mouse on Mars. A lovely, playful nature permeates every track, helping to sustain the soul-wrenching ambience of what is essentially a collection of innocent love songs, always helped along by bittersweet, endearing vocals.

French Kicks are ultimately original, and highly unique. The arrangements and scope of instrumentation surpass the usual boundaries of ordinary guitar-pop, and instead a plethora of sounds conjure heady emotions, burgeoning with longing and a mood of reflection. Simplicity abounds, but the choice of percussive layers and delicate waves of synth melodies help to keep the warmth and atmosphere almost endlessly refreshing, stirring and delightful; very, very happy-making indeed. However, this album doesn't just make me feel good, it spurs me on to thinking that what most popular bands lack these days isn't really anything that complex, it's what they think they should have that makes them so lacking in vision, expression and creativity. French Kicks appear to favour anonymity over anything else, in pursuit of their own transcendent ends but their significance for mainstream guitar music, if given the chance, may be likened to the impact of a band such as ...Trail Dead for alternative music. In fact their very demeanour is quite similar.

Principle writers Nick Stumpf and Josh Wise have produced some amazing, cathartic music here, which is melancholic like Interpol, but tinged with what seems a mixture of necessary optimism and hopeless romanticism. Sometimes minimal, sometimes adventurously epic, but mostly perfect, Trial of the Century really is sublime, addictive, indie-pop at its very best.



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