Album of the Week: French Wives – Dream of the Inbetween
The Tidal Wave of Indifference and French Wives go back a fair bit, not least after the band’s rousing performance at the Tidal Wave of Indifference Presents last year.
We’re unashamed and confirmed fans, at least of their live performances, so a chance to get an advance listen to their long-awaited debut album was a no-brainer. It would have been a little awkward if it wasn’t any good, but thankfully the band haven’t put us in a difficult position.
Produced by Tony Doogan (Mogwai/Belle and Sebastian) over the last year or so, Dream of the Inbetween is an accomplished statement of intent. Doogan’s production has worked wonders for the band and the faintly tinny sounding early EPs are long forgotten, with a big, boisterous sound right from the start.
Stuart Dougan’s vocals are right at the top of the mix throughout and from opener Modern Columns onward, the value that Siobhan Anderson’s violin adds is finally clear – not something which has always been obvious live, or on previous recordings.
So yes, they have a violin, and also a nice line in sweaters, but this is a million miles away from the template of Scottish folk pop that’s becoming a little wearing. Album standout Numbers has some tasty guitar sounds that you certainly wouldn’t hear this side of an Aberfeldy album.
There are quieter moments like Back Breaker and Younger is a delicate almost-ballad that hits a rousing chorus, before crashing out on huge-sounding coda.
The stop/start rhythms of a rearranged Me Vs. Me takes them into Franz Ferdinand territory and other motifs do subtly reference other notable Scottish bands – Admiral Fallow are a clear influence – but the songs on Dream of the Inbetween are good enough for this to be an instantly forgivable misdemeanour.
French Wives have taken their time over the album in an effort to get it absolutely right. And it’s paid off. With a trip to SXSW in March and being named in the Bloggers Alternative Sound of 2012 list (yes, we voted for them!), they have both ambition and good will to go with the songs. Don’t bet against them being this year’s breakout Scottish band.
We spoke to guitarist Scott Macpherson, meaning that French Wives join a dubious roll call of bands interviewed twice on the Tidal Wave of Indifference.
How was SXSW? Suitably knackered I hope?
South By was a great experience. We’re really privileged that we were able to go. Obviously we don’t know when or if we’ll ever be back so we really wanted to make the most of being out there. And I think it’s safe to say we definitely did! The famous Texan hospitality treated us rather well. In the weeks following it we definitely were knackered, but we’ve been back for like a month now, so it’s very much back to reality. For example, I’m currently writing this from the bar I work in. There are only two customers in, both of whom are eating scotch pies I substandardly heated for them. It kind of puts the cutting about like a rock star for a month into perspective!
The album’s out at last! A good feeling?
Yeah it’s a great feeling, but also a terrifying one. People often talk about how it’s like letting your children go to school or whatever and I’m beginning to understand that now. I just hope it’s good and people don’t bully it in the playground! But in all seriousness we’re really excited for people to hear it especially after we spent so long working so hard on it. We’re all really eager to hear people’s take on it, as it might be a bit different to what some people are expecting.
Will you be hawking your wares on the festival circuit this summer?
Hopefully, but we’ve nothing confirmed just yet. All the work for the US tour and the album launch tour have left us lagging behind a bit, but hopefully it’s not too late!
What’s next then?
I suppose we just have to see how this record goes. I mean, we’ve got ambitions for stuff we want to do and places we want to go, but it’s all a bit up in the air depending on the level to which the album is received. All going well, hopefully a LOT more gigs during the second half of the year.