9 Nov 2015
French Exit - Jerk Store
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
French Exit's chief creative force, AJ Griffin, has served time in a number of highly regarded Elephant Six affiliated bands (Laminated Cat, Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System), so it should come as no surprise to discover that French Exit's debut "Jerk Store" is a warped, melodic indie-pop gem.
There's a distinctly Beatlesque flavour to a number of these tunes, particularly noticeable in the vocal melodies, which have that Lennonesque gift of bypassing the obvious, yet still ending up with a cracking melody which will stay in your head for weeks. The other obvious touchstone is Elliott Smith, although that largely seems to be down to Griffin and Smith having absorbed and filtered the Beatle bible in a similar fashion. Check out the way that the piano and vocal combine on tracks like "Glass Doors", which sound as if they could have been lifted straight off of a slightly more psychedelic "Figure 8".
And just to proove that they can do more than just achingly melodic pop given a kooky twist, there's the brief interlude "Piano Jazz", which boasts a lovely melody that carries something of the haunting, and haunted quality which you'd expect to emanate from a distant room in the empty Overlook hotel - fans of the Caretaker will be particularly at home here.
But diversions like this aside, the album's main strength - apart from woozy, left of centre arrangements - are those gorgeous vocal melodies, which strike an immediate chord with the listener, without revealing all of their secrets in one go, almost as if the songs are evolving to meet the listener's needs for repeated listening. I can tell that I'll be listening to this a whole lot more.
CD and digital available here: