French Vanilla - How Am I Not Myself - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

French Vanilla - How Am I Not Myself

by Nathan McKinney Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-31
French Vanilla - How Am I Not Myself
French Vanilla - How Am I Not Myself

There is absolutely no fat to trim on French Vanilla's catchy as hell sophomore effort, How Am I Not Myself?. Clocking in at 31 minutes, every catchy track is a vital component in French Vanilla's manifesto: that you can consciously grapple the modern feminist and gender non-normative movements, and still manage to dance your ass off. The bouncy energy is delivered courtesy of a style of punk that has served many similar dance-with-a-message, female-led acts over the years. The combo of wiggly beats, stripped-down bassline, female at the helm, and the occasional sax worked magic for X-Ray Spex, Au Pairs, Essential Logic, Lilliput, and Maximum Joy — to name a few — so it feels like a natural fit for French Vanilla. While all those acts had their heyday in post punk's early years, what prevents French Vanilla from just coming off is a nostalgic act is a refined production value which sweetens the mix for a modern dance floor. 

If the topics covered are introspective, personal and heavy, the tone is decidedly cathartic and jubilant. These are life's lessons learned, past tense and the (r)evolution on the other side is a dance party. On the lead single "All The Time", Sally Spitz, lead singer, ponders dumping a guy for a girl-crush and how she chooses to reconcile that unexpected twist. But instead of dwelling on the confusion, she focuses on the attraction, which just so happens to make for fantastic disco fodder. Elsewhere, lyrics for Bromosapien are a take no prisoners assault on toxic masculinity, man-splaining and the like. Just in case self-proclaimed male-feminists didn't think they were in the crosshairs, they are put on notice:  "I can tell that you are still that guy, that guy, that guy, I think I hate you". But instead of anger, there's an 'I'm so over it, I'd rather just dance' vibe.

The challenging times we are living in have been certain to generate a whole host of artistic interpretations and reactions, but French Vanilla's particular concoction of pathos and liberation is perhaps the one that's needed most. Being socially conscious is tiring and aggravating at the best of times, perhaps the only sane way to muddle through is to triumphantly shout about it with conviction and dance like there's no place to go but up, or at least until the next battle commences.

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