French Kicks

Went to a movie the other night, and the guy who sold me the ticket had a long swoop of hair hanging down the middle of his forehead, in apparent homage to Mike Score, the former stylist who sang lead for A Flock of Seagulls. My reaction was instantaneous: I ran. But I'd better get used to such sights, since the soothing elixir of historical revisionism is presently inspiring plenty of music that recalls MTV's earliest era.

French Kicks (left) are among the more listenable acts mining this territory. On The Trial of the Century, cut for the independent Star Time imprint, vocalist/drummer Nick Stumpf displays the sort of lighter-than-air tenor that caused the hearts of mid-'80s listeners from both genders to flutter, and he uses it well on the ultra-melodic "One More Time" and "Oh Fine," a number built upon a rhythm that's midway between a clap-track and a clogging lesson. Some tunes feel daintier than is strictly necessary, but the band charms more often than it irritates, which wasn't always true of the long-ago acts that helped inspire the Kicks' sound.

Unlike the guy with the Seagulls fetish, they're unlikely to trigger your flight instinct.


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