RECOMMENDED RECORD: French for Rabbits: The Overflow (Reckless Yes/digital outlets)

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The Dark Arts
RECOMMENDED RECORD: French for Rabbits: The Overflow (Reckless Yes/digital outlets)

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this one which comes with the lyrics on the inner sleeve.

Check out Elsewhere's other Recommended Record picks . . .

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Elsewhere has had a long infatuation with the dreamy folk-pop and gently experimental electronica of French For Rabbits, the New Zealand group of singer/multi-instrumentalist Brooke Singer, guitarists Ben Lemi and John Fitzgerald, drummer Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa and singer/synth player Penelope Esplin.

In addition to their enchanting and sometimes mysterious music we also admired how outward-looking they were: they took their atmospheric music through Europe as soon as they could (opening for Agnes Obel at one point) and for their debut album Spirits they struck deals to get European and US distribution.

Their second album The Weight of Melted Snow confirmed that here was a distinctive sound which was both introspective and elegant but also had emotional and international reach.

“Long awaited” is a threadbare phrase but anyone who heard those previous album would certainly be in high anticipation for this one which was, admittedly, released a month ago. But we write about it now because it has just arrived on vinyl in a beguilingly evocative, framable (and yes, mysterious) cover photo by Emma Brittenden.

Co-produced by Jol Mulholland  and mastered by their longtime supporter Carl Saff in Chicago, The Overflow has warm sound separation where the guitar, synth, beats, strings and other elements provide a kind of elemental context for Singer's sometimes weightless vocals and “poetry girl” lyrics which shift easily between the observational (Middle of the House) and internal conversations (Walk the Desert, The Dark Arts).

Not many writers can get away with phrases or lines like “cubic zirconia . . . pushing myself like a square through a circle” (The Outsider), “my lips are parched and my blood sugar's low, rather walk the desert home” (Walk the Desert) or “first born child to the end of our rule, born in the ashes of the very first moon” (Nothing in My Hands).

Or, after a swirl of disconcerting images on The Dark Arts, settle the evocations with the conversational, “you know, you remind me of a boy I once knew”.

Singer has the ability to make painful personal confusion sound almost comforting in her delivery, as on the excellent Passengers where the dream-pop elements elevate what could otherwise sound maudlin.

FFR have created a space between psych-folk and dream-pop (the wispy Poetry Girl, Nothing in My Hands), and they occupy it with quiet assurance and this collection of repeat-play songs and lyrics which stand a close reading.

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You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here. It is also available on limited edtiion vinyl at selected stores. 

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