Los Angeles four piece French Vanilla definitely knows how to grab attention. With their slew of videos accompanying their latest album How Am I Not Myself? they gave an intriguing visual to add to their inventive sound. However, with all the imagery involved, it’s the album itself that stands out in a sea of new post-punk bands as a shining light for the genre. Rarely do they tread into familiar territory as they make each sound from the record their own while carving out their own take on the genre in the process.
The magic here is all in how the songs are laid out. With post-punk gracing the structuring, the LA band places saxophone on many of the tracks and it never feels out of place. The opener “Real Or Not” is a great example of this. The track has sax come in and leave like a thief in the night while the upbeat pacing of the song pulls you in. The following song, “Lost Power” shines just as bright with a more straight post-punk sound. Treading the lines between new wave and post-punk, the song has noodlings and instances that sound very eighties without having a dated feel.
It’s all here, like a dirty part of Los Angeles where S&M dungeons and beggars meet in the downtown warehouse spaces. “Friendly Fire” graces darker tones, “Suddenly” has a disco vibe but never steers from original intent and “Bromosapien” takes your ears down a path that feels urban but never lifted. Even the song “Joan of Marc by Marc” stands out on its own merits. Feeling closest to a song that Captain Beefheart would have experimented with, the song brings both side of post-punk and neo-disco together to form its own sound. French Vanilla does post-punk their own way all over this album and while it never lets you down, it never sounds like post-punk of the past either.
How Am I Not Myself? can be streamed on all streaming sites, it can be purchased from all digital music stores or it can be picked up physically directly from Danger Collective. French Vanilla is on tour beginning June 21 at Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, CA until August 10 at Back Room at Colectivo in Milwaukee, WI. A complete list of their tour schedule can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Lizzie Klein.