Too Pure - 2003 - 47 minutes
The first thing you notice about The French is the breath-taking brilliance of their name. Just how can two simple words contain such a range of arch-eyebrowed allusion? It's simply astounding. It's a side-swipe at the legion of recent bands beginning with "The", it opens up the can of worms of British xenophobia and epitomises louché cultural sophistication, all at once.
The album title takes another us in another direction, into the dark vales of the League of Gentlemen and the pedestrianised centres of Slough and Norwich, the prowling grounds of David Brent and Alan Partridge, those monstrous icons of modern English delusion.
The French are a self-consciously literary band, and Darren Hayman's pointed dissections of modern life are direct descendants of Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker's tiny tragedies. The opener, 'Porn Shoes', is typical , a tale of awkward dating among thirty-somethings unfolds with a list of spot-on references to brands and celebrities set to a chiming background music that gentling parodies the classic dinner party soundtrack.
The music is generally inventive, bringing electronic aspects to the classic indie template. An old-school hip-hop sample is drafted in to adorn 'The Wu-Tang Clan', the sweet story of one girl's love for Staten Island's finest rap crew. There's more domestic drama on the exquisite 'The Stars, The Moon, The Sun And The Clouds'. Lyrical perfection and an amazingly fresh use of two hackneyed instruments, the Vocoder and Moog.
This album is perfectly targeted for its generation, those kids who loved the Smiths, and those students who adored Pulp are now thirty-somethings. Radiohead are too sincere, Coldplay too dull. It's got to be the French.
Tracklisting: Porn Shoes - The Wu-Tang Clan - The Stars, The Moon, The Sun And The Clouds - When She Leaves Me - Canada Water - The Day You Arrive - The Pines - Nest Building - Gabriel In The Airport - Let It Go