FRENCH VANILLA: HOW AM I NOT MYSELF
How Am I Not Myself
Danger Collective Records
There are no scenes left, only actors. LA’s disparate, disjointed neighborhoods aren’t conducive to musical communion and collaboration, and DAWs have made myopia ever-easier. We’re all auteurs now! French Vanilla, then, is the great outlier, a band that sounds borne of poor civic decisions and tireless gigging, a tightly-held pastiche of no-wave canon and endless nights at Lot 1. They’re also wry as hell. ‘Bromosapien’ is an unambiguous indictment of a turd man, a lyrically succinct dis track—‘How do I know that you are sexist / because your ego is so delicate?’—backed by a percolating sax line and some of the most finely recorded handclaps on wax. ‘Sensitive (Not too Sensitive)’ is less direct, but has the same big ‘get off my back’ energy. It could be read as a queer manifesto, an imagining of a brighter future for the marginalized: ‘I want something that is better / I hope things will come together / For myself and for the others / For my sisters and my brothers.’ This is vocalist Sally Spitz’ definitive performance, replete with on-a-dime dynamic shifts and cavernous, lifted-soft-palate bellows followed by pinched and powerful punchlines. The rhythm section is equally sublime. The interplay between bassist and saxophonist is borderline balletic, sinewy and seductive. You can also hear a distinctive, left-in-the-mix grunt at 1:38. That’s that good shit. Co-producer and engineer Sean Cook worked on St. Vincent’s MASSEDUCATION, an album that is shamanistically linked to this very-fine French Vanilla opus. The signature dark comedy of the bands’ work is there, mixed with razor sharp musicianship smoothed over by a veneer of effortlessness. They all sort of lay back, rhythmically, but they do it TOGETHER. Album opener ‘Real or Not’ is almost indulgent in its saccharine pop perfection. From the opening lines, you can feel the spirit of the greats pouring from Spitz. She just kind of slides into the pocket in a way that’s insidious and very correct. Also the little falsetto breakdown section is the kind of arrangement detail that lifts this album head and shoulders above its contemporaries. Nothing vanilla about that.
FRENCH VANILLA’S HOW AM I NOT MYSELF IS OUT NOW ON DANGER COLLECTIVE RECORDS.