French Kicks The Roller EP [Vagrant]


Rating:  4.4

The new EP from the French Kicks, emergent band borne out of the D.C. hardcore resurgence of the 90s, lacks grit and charm. A new exclusively eMusic release, The Roller EP, stuns with a bit of boredom and a less than vicious bite. Turning from post-punk/garage rock into wistful pop-rock is no simple task, but the French Kicks have mastered the downward spiral well.

The title track, running up first on the EP, sounds like an inverted Phil Collins song spiked with ear-tweakingly inconsistent vocals. Complete with breathy harmonies and appealing synth-pop edge, this song just doesn’t manage to deliver the goods. Its drearily apathetic pace needs a key bump to stay alive.

“A Delicate Hang” doesn’t restore my faith in the most boring band of the year, but it does slightly improve upon the previous track. Yearning falsetto vocals compliment the ethereal simplicity and give it a slightly Sigur Ros/Phoenix vibe that propels it directly into invisibility. The French Kicks’ typically strong songwriting is absent from this track, and the EP as a whole. The band seemed to depart from interesting to strained on Two Thousand and don’t seem to have found their way back to the substance of One Time Bells or Trial of the Century.

To round off The Roller, “A Little Death, A Little Rebirth” doesn’t make things better. The vocals alone are enough to almost make me cringe. Those, coupled with brassy and flat guitars, make this track an ill-fated one to end on. I can’t help myself from slightly bobbing my head to the beat, but that act isn’t enough to justify the weakness of this album.

I feel as if I almost know where the French Kicks are trying to go with this EP, but The Roller sounds like the sweaty outtakes of an opium-dusted jam session. Perhaps this is only a somewhat sickly prequel to a fresh new sound, but I’m not holding my breath.

—Shrie Bradford

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