November 13, 2013

Je Suis France: Coleslaw III Drymouth

Diskette Records LTD

Here is what you need to know about the sixth full-length from the dubiously local rock and roll collective Je Suis France. A: It's called Coleslaw III Drymouth, which is a play on the real (and really hilarious) name of a 12th Century Polish prince, Boleslaw III Wrymouth. B: Coleslaw III Drymouth is out in a limited cassette run on a Polish record label. C: Je Suis France has never been to Poland.

The in-joke-obsessed members of the France, as the group has been dubbed by its devotees, live all over the place: Athens, San Francisco, not-Poland. Yet the band has managed to maintain a relatively steady stream of output over the past decade, from 2007's critically misunderstood Afrikan Majik LP to 2011's patience-pushing Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About.

Coleslaw III Drymouth is, in fact, the band's freshest-sounding album in some time, and arguably among its two or three most palatable releases to date. This is due in part to its succinct running time (25 minutes), which allows for fewer diversions. The record finds the band distilling its sportive pop down to its undeniable core: the hooks and punchlines, both sung and played, are among the strongest the France has given us in years.

Despite its playfulness, Coleslaw III Drymouth features some honest-to-goodness pathos, too. The erstwhile Miller High Life-swilling members of the France, at one time Athens' indie-rock answer to the dominant downtown frat culture, are now smack-dab in the middle of adulthood and not averse to looking back on "the good times" with honest ambivalence. But, as intently regressive tunes like "Hot Shit in Tent City" make painfully clear, you should probably take these life lessons with a grain of salt. 3 out of 5.