The French Kicks – The French Kicks

3 out of 5

Label: My Pal God Records

Produced by: Greg Talenfeld

Many moons ago, when New York was doing its rock revival thing, I was working at a music store and would often find random things of interest when filing away CDs.  Some pretty cheap looking artwork attracted me to some releases by what seemed to be a fledgling, local label: Star Time International, and the albums I was juggling were an EP by Walkmen and a French Kicks album, and I bought both, and I listened to them a heck of a lot.  Kinda.  The Walkmen EP was four short songs; FK’s disc was six, so fairly comparable in terms of length, but I noticed that, firstly, these groups sounded pretty similar, and that they shared a producer at this point – Greg Talenfeld, who gave each recording a really raw, edgy and earthy sound that kicked the tits off of pared down, tinny albums I heard outputted from other New York-y peers of the time – and that, thirdly, my attention span with each of these discs only seemed to make it two or three songs deep.  Those two or three songs?  Fantastic.  But I could never remember much of what happened after that.

Walkmen pretty quickly went deeper into wankier, New York-ier, critical-darlinger territory that wasn’t of much interest to me, but I continued to enjoy their two or three Greg Talenfeld produced songs from their first couple discs.  French Kicks, similarly, pursued something more than the couple of riffs they’d mastered, and went after a poppier sound, to less critical acclaim.

And then!  I discovered that the ‘Kicks had actually put out a disc prior to their Star Time debut, on a label with a much more consistently enjoyable output: My Pal God.  This didn’t change their m.o. much, as this self-titled debut kicks off with two excellent Greg Talenfeld produced rockers that are exactly in the vein of the other Greg Talenfeld produced rockers I’d enjoyed, but it was great to be able to add to this small pile of Songs I Liked.  They are damn catchy.  Interestingly, though, the group explores some “groovier” rock on the remaining two tracks of this EP, delivering some solid – if rather sloppy, and thus not quite grabbing – classic rock n’ roll that rather differentiated their sound even moreso from the NY scene of the early 00s, but I guess this was an avenue the group decided to ditch prior to pounding their drums harder and working on syncopated, sound-alike riffs for their debut album and their followup.