Album: INTERNATIONAL HYPER RYTHMIQUE – Uncity Nation (Ocean Music 2010)

“You’ve got dead ears, mate”. OK Russell Crowe is a bit of a tit, but what a great line (said to Mark Lawson during a BBC interview, as you no doubt know). Mine aren’t dead, but are feeling somewhat tired. A lot of the stuff I’ve been going through in my ‘to review’ pile has been, well, meh! 30 seconds in and you just want to fast forward to the next tune. You feel like you’ve suddenly got the attention span of a goldfish, but the reality is that the music simply doesn’t hold the attention. It’s just mediocre – nothing particularly bad about it, but pretty much forgotten within seconds.

International Hyper Rythmique’s debut album Uncity Nation isn’t perfect, but my trigger finger stayed off the FF button. The band are a Toulouse based sibling trio of Claire, Jean and Laurence Martial-Guilhem who deal in a kind of chilled experimental pop. Laurence (that’s a girl Laurence not a boy Laurence) has an engaging, if not necessarilly distinctive, voice and sings in English. The eleven tracks range from the ethereally floaty opener to more standard indie-pop fare, but maintain a cool charm throughout. There are a few songs that pass by shyly avoiding attention, but there are enough standouts to make the album worthwhile.

Curiously, there are two instrumentals in the centre of the record that both grab the spotlight more than many of the songs around them. City Nation is a beautiful piano / bass / field recording piece that has an airy feel of a city waking up to a new day. It’s followed by the Richard Brautigan inspired The Smallest Snowstorm, a bright and breezy guitar-led piece. Of the songs, it’s the first two and final two that shine. Fucked Up has a kind of polite anger about it that you’d have thought was a more English trait than a French one. My Love ends with the words take my hand and jump through the window. Now that’s a terrific parting shot.

1 Monday 7.24 3:58
2 Carry Out 4:51
3 Les Yeux de Juin 2:19
4 Folka 2:48
5 Monday Morning 2:21
6 City Nation 3:15
7 La Plus PetiteTempête de Neige 3:26
8 Six AM 3:04
9 Grand Whiskey 2:50
10 Fucked Up 2:52
11 My Love 3:44



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