Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

Size of Food

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Love Songs was a promising, if somewhat inconsistent debut, but New Zealand band Jean-Paul Sartre Experience really came into their own with The Size of Food. From the start, they fit pretty comfortably into the homespun pop tradition of the legendary Flying Nun label as practiced by the likes of the Clean, Straitjacket Fits and, especially, the Chills, but they exhibit a certain eclectic, rough-hewn individuality on this release. To some extent, The Size of Food prefigures the crooked pop Scottish groups like the Beta Band would be making a decade later. Vocalist Dave Yetton sometimes sounds as if he's straining to hit the high notes, but this lends a certain vulnerability to the softer songs, like "Shadows," and a sense of urgency to the harder ones, like "Get My Point." The overall effect is more charming than off-putting, somewhat akin to Big Star-era Alex Chilton or even early Peter Gabriel. As "Dry the Rain" was to the Beta Band's Three EPs, "Elemental" is the star in this particular firmament, the song that best illustrates the group's way with a catchy chorus and shimmering guitar-based bed of sound.

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