French Kicks, 'Swimming' (Vagrant)

Critical Mass
Label: Vagrant

by William Goodman

At first listen, this Brooklyn-based group's fourth record sounds cut from the same sessions as 2006's lustrously arty Two Thousand; but where its predecessor relied on rigid crescendos, Swimming relaxes. "Abandon" grooves on swaying bass, chirping guitars, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Nick Stumpf's nervy drawl; "Sex Tourists" softly implodes on sliding riffs and gliding keys; Tropicalia-touched "Said So What" shakes on a bright, Beach Boys–like chorus. By recycling and loosening up Two Thousand's best elements -- inventive instrumental passages, rich harmonies, across-the-board emoting -- French Kicks get both poppier and deeper.



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