Big French

Stone Fish

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    7
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Stone Fish is the ambitious, complex second full-length from New York-based experimental pop group Big French, arriving four years after their 2013 debut, Downtown Runnin, as well as a cassette EP. The album almost sounds like the work of an entirely different band than its predecessor. On their first full-length, Big French played a bizarre blend of bombastic prog rock and knotty post-punk, with most of the album's 18 songs falling under the two-minute mark. While the album was intriguing, it was quite hard to listen to due to songwriter Quentin Moore's annoyingly high-pitched, squeaky voice, which fell somewhere in between Danielson's Daniel Smith, Perry Farrell, and Scharpling & Wurster's character Timmy von Trimble. Thankfully, he has a more regular vocal range on Stone Fish, immediately making the album considerably more palatable. Big French don't rock out on Stone Fish as much as they did on Downtown Runnin; they tone down the heavy guitars and punk tempos and go for more of a jittery, minimalist art rock sound. Surprisingly, this album sounds way more lo-fi than their debut, with the drums generally sounding buried behind smudgy tape effects and scratchy guitars. On the peppy "Words Appear," the group stuffs a multitude of cartoonish noise bursts into little more than a minute. Moore's abstract, poetic lyrics retain a childlike quality, describing animals and inanimate objects that can talk, and questioning the presence or existence of things. However, he's more direct and poignant on later tracks like "Second Kid with You" and "My Angel." Zach Phillips, who ran the excellent OSR Tapes until 2016, plays numerous instruments on the album, and it actually sounds a lot closer to his band Blanche Blanche Blanche than previous Big French recordings, particularly on tracks such as standout "The New Cochlear Sun." Stone Fish is brimming with ideas, and is easily Big French's best work to date.

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