FRENCH EXIT: Guts & Black Stuff: CD/LP

I have a tenuous relationship with backup gang vocals. On one hand, it can undermine the tone of a song and cause it to slip into outright silliness. On the other hand, it can really solidify a chorus and make something instantly catchy. French Exit somehow maintains the latter, like a trapeze artist, on their upbeat anthems; lesser bands would warrant major eye rolls. The rest of the songs are taut dramas, especially “When There’s a Fork in the Road, Take It” and “Bridges,” with tempo changes and Weezer-lite balladry. The production is slick which highlights every bent note, bass line, and tom fill. I would be lying if I said that these songs aren’t infectious—they snuggle up in the back of your head, like the adorable Maine Coon pictured on the cover. For fans of ‘90s guitar chugs and confident pop hooks. Recommended. 

 –Sean Arenas (It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com, [email protected])