French Vanilla: How Am I Not Myself? (Danger Collective) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

French Vanilla

How Am I Not Myself?

Danger Collective

Jun 14, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

At some point, girls are taught to like boys. More specifically, parents tell their daughters that they should seek a husband and tend to him in sickness and health. You'd think that the modern world would ease off this whole heterosexual contract dealiobut alas, the marriage question still weighs heavy on the unmarried millenial's shoulder. What can anyone do to lift the burden? On their new album How Am I Not Myself?, Los Angeles' New Wave auteurs French Vanilla have two answersspeak out so loud against this dogma that no one can mute you and dance so hard that everyone clears a space. With a chameleon's coat of stylish grooves and louche sax solos, Sally Spitz and her demolition squad summon the past to forge a new future for women and the bros that stifle them.

Now, let's be clear: French Vanilla aim to disrupt the patriarchy and all that, but not without some slick shades and suits. Sinister disco grooves and bleating saxes emphasize the seedy relationships on trialespecially on the Bush Tetras-ish "All the Time," where the protagonist seems brainwashed by romance. And you could certainly groove with the sultry bass on "Suddenly," where Spitz channels a bit of David Byrnealthough, if you follow the lyrics, grooving in public doesn't always end well for folks conditioned to expect the worst. "Joan of Marc by Marc" even pulls some frantic and funky flourishes from Josef K, as libido tugs the narrator in baffling directions between men and women.

Still, the Vanilla gang are here on a mission. In the jittery climax of "Bromosapien," Spitz targets the invisible dude threat with Romeo Void-esque swagger and razor blade precision: "Made a little joke and you had to turn it around/Fragile manchild who has to take me down." (And if the dullards in the room didn't get the message, the extra sax squeals and the giddy cry of "I think I hate you" should hammer the nail home.) Elsewhere, French Vanilla boil down the ruinous micro-power structures between men and women into succinct and super-catchy anthems, like the tidy, B-52s-esque "Lost Power" ("Power on, switch it off, now I can see/All the power you've held over me"). "Friendly Fire" even shows us how trust can build and then unravel as those arbitrary hierarchies emerge, as post-punk tension to rival The Sound pulses through the bleachers.

On all fronts, French Vanilla have scored a serious win here. For anyone frustrated with the hidden chains under holy matrimony, How Am I Not Myself? gives the subdued masses words to stoke their smothered fire; and even for those who don't feel the heat, the gang bring pure fire to the dancefloor. Eat that, mom. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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