The debut album by instrumental pop duo Anthony Gonzalez and Nicholas Fromageau might be pleasant enough to people hearing them for the first time, but it's bound to be a disappointment to anyone who started with "Dead Seas, Red Cities..." or "Before the Dawn...". On the surface it's hard to tell why. Their basic raw materials are all there, splurges of dirty / pretty electronics, shoegaze guitar textures and offbeat synthetic drums. But while there are some nice touches, like the disembodied film voices which darken the otherwise plainly sentimental tune "Carresses" (misspelt), there's little of the real cinematic drama that made its followups so renowned. There's even less of the tunes, switching as it does between TV gameshow-theme or computer-game like pieces like "Sitting" and Vangelis-flavoured lingering atmospheres like "Violet Tree". While their hi-tech production knack is evident, without the dramatic power it all tends to bypass you in a muzacky wash. You can see where their taste for grandiose album finales started, but the excruciating key changes and plodding tune of "I'm Happy, She Said" show that they hadn't got the hang of it yet.
One nice quirk is that the track titles, read out in order, form an scene from an imaginary teen film.
June 7, 2008