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Anger seldom sounds as enticing as it does on Virtue Signals. Steven Adams’s first with his new group, The French Drops is an album that rails against the iniquities of the world and meshes the personal with the political, without ever smacking the listener around the head. Adams (former songwriter/singer/guitarist with The Broken Family Band and Singing Adams) can’t help but be witty and empathetic even as he rages, and the fury is wrapped inside his characteristically sweet melodies.
The album’s tone is set from opening track, “Bad Apples”, a song addressing flag-waving, aggressive patriots. The lyrics are alternately playful and oblique, in the spirit of songwriters like John Lennon or Britt Daniel from Spoon. Where Adams aims to remove ambiguity and play with metaphor, as with “Ex Future”, the opacity of his writing means he doesn’t descend into cliche.
Following a few years of performing and recording solo, Adams says he wanted to put together “a band where everyone was following their noses. I’ve been calling the shots for ages now, and now I can lean on these people, make more noise. It’s fair to say we share a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about the state of the world. But mostly we talk about food.” Laurie Earle (Absentee, Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards, Wet Paint) plays guitar with a loose, intuitive touch; Michael Wood - who had played bass with The Singing Adams - switches to keyboards here, while Daniel Fordham (drums) and David Stewart (bass) from The Drink complete the band.
Produced by Ben Nicholls (Nadine Shah, Cara Dillon). Mixed by acclaimed producer and engineer (and Hudson Records supremo) Andy Bell. Adams tours the UK through May and the summer.
For fans of: Field Music, Pavement, Spoon, Grandaddy, Teleman.
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