Although the band’s name seems foreign, the French Kicks are a local band. Since 1998, D.C. natives vocalist/drummer Nick Stump, bassist Jamie Krents and vocalists/guitarists Matt Stinchcomb and Josh Wise have been making experimental, creative music that explores the boundaries of pop-rock while still maintaining an appealing accessibility.
In August 2006, the band released its third full-length album, entitled “Two Thousand.” The album discusses the theme of distance, examining, celebrating and lamenting it from different angles.
The album’s opener, “So Far We Are,” introduces this theme of distance. Rhythmic guitar and fervent drumming provides the framework for simple, repetitive lyrics. The tenor vocals are passionate and insistent, and there is little variation to the melody. However, although most of the song is redundant, the tune changes during the chorus, making a subtle yet unexpected turn which makes the song much more interesting and creative.
The third song, “Cloche,” (which means “clock” in French), changes the pace of the album. It begins with a sort of Caribbean-style instrumental ensemble, then introduces ghostly Thom Yorke-like vocals, slow and droning, words blurring. As the song continues, it sounds more and more like a track from a Radiohead album than a song from the French Kicks. The last minute of the song tapers out quietly, before ascending to a chorus that is the perfect conclusion to such an ethereal tune.
“Keep It Amazed,” the fifth track on “Two Thousand,” darkens the tone of the album significantly. Gloomy guitar chords and low-pitched singing and harmonizing sets a mood of despair that trails the song to the finish. Despite the dejected disposition, this song is one of the best on the album. Emotional and zealous, it conveys the gloomy sensation without being overbearing and depressing.
“Hey I Wait I” is one of the most interesting songs on the album, and probably also the most varied. While the vocals don’t differ much from other tracks, the musical arrangement is very distinctive. The drumbeats change drastically from one part of the song to the next, as do the guitars. The vocals tend to drift after the rest of the instruments, almost floating along with them. For the first time, it is seemingly not the lyrics and singing that lead the song, but instead the rest of the instruments.
The last track on the album, “Go On” is a significant termination to “Two Thousand.” One of the shortest songs on the album, “Go On” is both slow and enigmatic, as it drifts quietly toward the end without much deviation, save for the occasional and brief energetic outburst. The percussion is more diverse than in previous tracks, as the band utilizes many instruments to purvey a new, layered sound.
If their latest album is any indication of their overall performance, their concert will be an energetic and interesting show.
The French Kicks will be performing on Sunday, November 19th at the 9:30 club.
This article appeared in the November 16, 2006 issue of the Hatchet.