“French Kicks” are a four-piece indie rock band based in New York. They are Nick Stumpf (Vocals and Drums), Josh Wise (Vocals and Guitar), Lawrence Stumpf (Bass and Backing Vocals) and Aaron Thurston (Drums and Backing Vocals). Two formers bandmates, Jamie Krents and Matthew Stinchcomb left to pursue their own interests. French Kicks’ music genre are mostly regarded as garage rock and post-punk revival.
Swimming gives you the feeling that you’re actually in a gig listening to French Kicks live. Sounding unique and as if they were playing in their own garage or basement, you’ll gradually like them through their consistency in their own music genre and rhythmic draggy vocals.
Swimming lets us in with the well-performed “Abandon”. I like the way the guitar opens with the handclaps, giving you indication that this song will instantly click with you. In the chorus, Nick let it go with “Ah…” while the remaining French Kicks continued playing their instruments to make sure they hit the listeners straight at this first track. Abandon is a great start!
“Over The World” has really nice verses. Nick sings effortlessly throughout the verses and the music just have great timing. “Awful, you’re making it awful…”, goes Nick when singing the first verse. At some points in Over The World, it slightly reminds me of “Cloche” from previous album Two Thousand. Like an evolution of “Cloche”.
The opening guitar of “Carried Away” is really something. It gets me smiling and totally into this song. Great stuff here! “I was carried away.. i was carried away…”, sings Josh in an attempt to build something here. The guitar by French Kicks keeps a steady and consistent rhythm in Carried Away, only Josh’s voice adds stars into this track. Not a bad effort at all.
“New Man” takes a short while to warm up before you can hear Nick singing and the warm up is good as well. The plucking of the guitar and the beating of the drums sounds good even though it’s just repeating in a loop. The chorus really changes the sound of New Man. There’s a lovely sound on and off that sounds like “Ding… Ding…” in different notes. Gradually into New Man, French Kicks add more tempo and beat to it. Everyone should try this.
“Said So What” already had me once Josh’s voice and the bass come in. I knew this song would certainly be one of my favorites off Swimming. The verses are soft accompanied by shaker and drums, but the chorus take a different level and Josh goes, “Why, tell me why, i don’t know…”. The part after the chorus is beautiful. An upbeat ballad by French Kicks!
“Atlanta” starts off with solo drums. I find it kind of good with the drum beats. And again, it has some resemblance to Two Thousand’s “Cloche”. French Kicks give a good show in the chorus where the band moan while Nick sings in his draggy trademark voice.
It sounds like “Love In The Ruins” start off with some reggae guitar or banjo (Correct me if i’m wrong). Frankly, it’s really good and it gets even better when the bass come in. Love In The Ruins has a somewhat catchy chorus with some soft singing and moans. The repetition of “Du, du…” after the chorus is like a steroid, whetting our hungry appetite for the chorus. This is brilliant!
“With The Fishes” has a title that got me smiling as i find it funny. And this time the vocal is back to Josh again. The music starts from a fading sound and Josh does a good job in the chorus, trying to imitate Nick’s trademark voice. The guitar is making With The Fishes a fun track to listen to, credit to Josh again for the wonderful sound. The guitar is really jovial!
“The Way You Arrive” is perhaps the loudest track on the album. The guitar doesn’t take much rest on this track. And due to this, most of the time i can’t really listen to what Nick is singing, the music is taking over in The Way You Arrive. French Kicks only can be heard doing some howlings on and off while Nick is singing. Maybe they’re just experimenting something new with The Way You Arrive. If you listen carefully, you can enjoy the the treasure of the rhythm in this track, otherwise, they might be trying too hard for you.
“All Our Weekends” starts with some horn-like music, which i think might be created by synthesizers. Josh takes back the wheel on All Our Weekends. Frankly, French Kicks are somewhat lost in All Our Weekends. From start to end, i can’t hear any directions they are going. It’s pretty flat from start to end. But i like the horn-like sound that surrounds All Our Weekends. It’s the core here.
“Sex Tourists” is promising. French Kicks have this talent of capturing a sound and make it so good to our ears. In Sex Tourists, the guitar is simple yet exceptional. When the chorus comes, Nick again continues to sing in his trademark voice, as if whispering this time around. The bass is also groovy in a way that you find it a good background rhythm that keeps the listeners in tune with this track. Love this track!
You’ll find the drums on “This Could Go Wrong” have high spirit. French Kicks decide to end Swimming with a slow ballad. And Nick even sounds sad in his singing. French Kicks show us their vocals with minimal music instruments on This Could Go Wrong. Unlike most tracks that close an album with a powerful note, This Could Go Wrong is quite consistent from start to finish. The most notable thing is French Kicks’ rhythmic vocals. Nice work!
Rating: Swimming is really good for garage rock lovers. French Kicks are really similar to The Walkmen in their musical genre. If you’re a fan of The Walkmen, you’ll definitely love French Kicks. Swimming also has this effect that’ll make you feel that you’re listening to French Kicks live in a garage, making you feel connected and closer to them. Nevertheless, they are very consistent in their music genre. Even with their fourth album out, they still make great music consistently and experiment with some new sounds that lead to track, “Said So What” and “Love In The Ruins”. Honestly, they sound kind of romantic and maybe French Kicks are finally prepare to make some indie garage love songs. Although Swimming might have some boring moments, it’s still good. I would give it 6.9 out of 10.
Stand-Out Tracks (My Picks): Abandon, Carried Away, Said So What, Atlanta, Love In The Ruins, With The Fishes and Sex Tourists.