Where the Oceans End

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The second album by the French duo of Mark Daumail and Morgane Imbeaud has a bit more of a U.K. focus than the debut -- not necessarily a matter of language, but the production from Ian Caple and arrangements from Dickon Hinchliffe of Tindersticks put a certain stamp on it (as opening song "Sushi" demonstrates, with the lush, slightly spooky strings audibly within the realm of Hinchliffe's interests). Daumail and Imbeaud's own work is on the one hand a familiar kind of early 21st century folk/indie/(pick a term, any term) -- the cheery ukulele on "Comets" says as much, as does its shift into a full-bodied drum-heavy punch on the choruses. It's all brisk, well performed, and equal parts sprightly and reflective -- nothing too surprising in the end, it's a second album by a band clearly working in a vein rather than fully staking out a spot of its own. Songs like "Dee Doo" and "Dolphins" race along, just waiting to soundtrack some sort of sweet video montage from a recent film, and it doesn't even have to be (500) Days of Summer. But those elements that are their own remain enjoyable -- Imbeaud's singing has a deeper, just melancholic undertow even at the band's most energetic, well suited to match the larger arrangements on a song like "Yum Yum" -- and nowhere near as twee as the title might suggest. If Daumail is not as distinct in comparison he's still enjoyable enough, and his understated lead on the increasingly dramatic build of "Oh My God" provides a surprisingly strong anchor. Where the band goes next isn't yet clear, but there's space for it to make a stronger mark in the future.

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