CD Review: Frenchy & The Punk - Zen Ghost
Artist: Frenchy & The Punk
Title: Zen Ghost
Genre: Post Punk / Goth / Dark Folk
Release Date: 28th October 2022
Label: EA Recordings
This is an interesting listen. New York City based FRENCHY & THE PUNK released their 6th album, none of which I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing but never mind, we all have to start somewhere and starting here is as good a place as any. Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson met in 1998 when Stephenson in a state of spontaneous pique jumped onto the stage during Helland’s solo guitar performance and joined in. This sparked the long term union that has turned heads with their striking aesthetic ever since. This is another one of those introspective dark albums that many artists produced during the “dark times” that were the global lock downs. It’s also a journey into the bands “unexplored personal planes” and interpretations of “the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age”.
‘Mon Souvenir’ opens proceedings with an acoustic play of urgency. Synthetic strings duelling with the usual wire ones? The vocals are awesome! Cavernous and full with subtle vibrato ‘Temple Of Sleep’ is a track right up my street because I spend a lot of time worshipping at the altar of sleep. This sounds very Siouxsie Sioux, you could easily mistake this for a BANSHEES track. And then the next track evokes the tone of MAMMA CASS whilst backed by acoustic guitar and an electric twang. I like the vocals warble at around 2:24 followed by the trills of the guitar. The overall sound feels analogue and old school. ‘Gear Geist’ has a stepped intro and softly punched drums that eases you into the track in a non-bullying way. Instruments play the same phrase before spreading out to tentacles doing their own thing. The vocal wails through the tentacles like smoke finding a path through trees.
‘Church Of Sound’ - acoustic guitar starts followed by soft vocals that are tunefully on point with no ridiculous trills and embellishments filling out the soundscape to the point everything feels crowded, fake and annoying. Just what’s needed is what is exclaimed here. The male vocal is smoky and strangled but works well in the track because it’s used very, very minimally. ‘Come In And Play’ is one of the album’s release teaser tracks up and ready for your listening pleasure on BandCamp from October the 6th. Punchy of bass, again not bullying. Just day-dreamy emphasis. The spidery guitar flicks in here and then flicks in there, here there, here and there. Sounding very subtly CURE like in places as the reminder pops in quickly and pops out just as fast. ‘Paradise Found’ is an abrupt track, each note played with a stop before moving on. I tap out the guitar parts on the table, duh duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh…. yeah , paradise was found for a fleeting moment.
Next up is ’Blood’. This track reminds me of the bands INTO A CIRCLE and GETTING THE FEAR, it’s the way the vocals are delivered. I like the Surf Rock twank of the guitars as well as the bass that I find lollops along like a sinister surfer on a black surfboard that sears its way through the white heads of lofty waves before ‘Oxygen’ returns to the Siouxie vocal stylings, for a moment anyway. And then there is a puffed out chest of a vocal, in my head the arms are outstretched with clawed hands grabbing the air. And back we go to the ethereal utterances of the Siouxsie vocal, glassy eyed and all. ‘I’ll See You Again’ ends the album. It’s acoustic focused, straddles that line between folk and ethereal shoegaze. The vocal here is delicately glass like and floats like molten glass that has been poured into ice cold water. Everything has a precise clarity to it from the vocal, the words and the plucking of the acoustic guitar. A perfect ending!
Overall the vocals are pleasant and pleasing. It drifts to the point of being very Siouxie Sioux one minute to being akin to many voices from the 1960s and 1970s like the aforementioned MAMMA CASS, MARY HOPKINS or even CHER and STEVIE NICKS. Everything works in tandem with everything else, nothing is out of place so I find the album the perfect accompaniment for any activity be it walking or even polishing the household brass. Because I became easily focussed, what’s the phrase I'm looking for? Mentally quantised!
01. Mon Souvenir
02.Temple Of Sleep
03. If The Doesn’t End First
04. Gear Geist
05. Church Of Sound
06. Come In And Play
07. Paradise Found
10. I’ll See You Again
Samantha Stephenson - Lyrics, Lead Vocal, Percussion and Keyboards
Scott Helland - Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums, Backing Vocals
Jason Sarubbi - Upright Bass (Church Of Sound)
Braxton Bellew - Additional Electric Bass (Church Of Sound)
Total: 8 / 10
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