29 Sep 2022
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French For Rabbits - Album Review: The Overflow

09 Nov 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

French For Rabbits are back with their eagerly awaited third album, which is their first for AAA Records (home of Troy Kingi, Lee Martin etc.). Throughout their career the band have been incredibly stable, with Brooke Singer (vocals, piano, nylon string, synths), John Fitzgerald (electric guitar), Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa (drums) and Ben Lemi (bass, vocals, electric guitar) appearing on both their albums, but since the release of The Weight of Melted Snow they have expanded into a quintet with the addition of Penelope Esplin (Grawlixes, vocals, synth, bass, keyboards). Their 2014 debut album Spirits received millions of streams and song placements on shows such as The Vampire Diaries to and Netflix’s Never Have I Ever TV series, and the band have now returned with a piece of work which is their most complete yet.

This is music which transports the listener into a different time and place, somewhere in the woods with the sun coming through the leaves, glistening on the gentle stream babbling past. It is ethereal, gossamer strands which the mind tries to grasp but it passes by too quickly, shimmering like mist. It would be very easy to say that this is all about Brooke’s vocals, but it would also be incorrect as while her presence is incredibly important it is the combination of that voice with the arrangements which make this album what it is. While the vocals are often doubled, they somehow feel fragile while there is also an inner strength. I was somewhat surprised to hear quite how much Ouija Board, stands out on the album, as when I reviewed the single, I said how delicate it felt, but against the rest of the album the bass and drums make it somewhat stronger and more powerful than when heard in isolation.

There is a magic here, something which transcends the pettiness of musical genres and labels, and while many will refer to this as folk, there are also huge elements of psychedelia, pop combined with a feeling of innocence and last Sixties delights. The reason they can put in so many wonderful nuances and touches is due to superb recording and production, with the band working with NZ producer/musician Jol Mulholland (Tami Neilson, Neil Finn, Delaney Davidson, Troy Kingi) so we get subtle notes here and there which catch our attention and then move along. The keyboards on Poetry Girl are gorgeously dated, the bass warm and inviting, and the layered vocals surreal yet it is hard to pick numbers out as we go from one success to another. Singer has said that she did not want any filler on this release, and with that she has certainly succeeded.

This is an album which demands to be played on headphones when the listener knows they are not going to be disturbed, so they can just drift into the wonderfully sublime exquisite world of French For Rabbits, where reality ceases to exist and all that exists is the music.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About French For Rabbits

Hailing from New Zealand, haunting dream-folk duo French For Rabbits have been quietly building a reputation for their sad yet brave songs. Since releasing their debut EP Claimed By The Sea in March 2012, they have gathered a dedicated fan-base around the globe with handwritten letters and home-assembled albums.

The authenticity of their songs and their engaging live shows has resulted in student radio play in New Zealand, support in the UK from BBC 6 presenters Gideon Coe, Tom Ravenscroft and The Shed’s Mark Coles, and a nomination for Best Folk Album of 2013 for the New Zealand music awards. They have also received funding from NZ On Air for a single and video due out later this year.

Brooke Singer, who is the fragile voiced songstress and writer for the duo, began performing with guitarist John Fitzgerald in 2011. Determined to overcome an acute fear of singing in public, the pair shifted to Wellington from their hometown of Christchurch and set about tentatively performing at an intimate open mic at a local café. They have since toured nationally in New Zealand, and played alongside the likes of Jess Chambers, Darren Hanlon and Tiny Ruins.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for French For Rabbits

Releases

The Overflow
Year: 2021
Type: Album
The Weight of Melted Snow
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Spirits
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Claimed By The Sea
Year: 2012
Type: EP

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