Album Review: French Kiwi Juice: FKJ

‘Smooth and seductive sounds grab your attention right from the start’

Intro to FKJ:
Paris based artist Vincent Fenton (FKJ) has been breaking into the French electro-housemusic scene for the past few years and during this time has been recogised as a leading light in the genre. Therefore, it is no real surprise that his debut album is full of sounds and textures that transport you to the back streets of France. Read on to find out why you should be discovering FKJ now.

Track 1: We Ain’t Feeling Time
Opening this self titled album is the smooth, seductive sound of ‘We Ain’t Feeling Time’ which with its gently free-flowing introduction grabs your attention and lets you know that FKJ is about one thing only and that is creating electronic music with a sense of laid back soul. What you don’t really get from the introduction though, is just how he will do this, but after no more than about 30 seconds it becomes clear and with its chilled beats, flawless saxophone feature, dreamy sounding organ and smooth vocals, you know you are in for a real treat.

Tracks 2, 3 & 4: Skyline, Never Give U Up & Go Back Home
Moving onto Track 2, ‘Skyline’ takes on a more traditional format but with some experimental features, such as the reverberating vibraslap sound which although verges on being on irritating, clever production allows it to sit perfectly. This track generally feels a lot sparser than the opening one, mostly due to the lack of saxophone, but the fact that is missing demonstrates a sense of maturity from this emerging artist in deciding that not all tracks need to be the same. This said, a very similar vibe is carried through into Tracks 3 and 4 (Never Give U Up and Go Back Home respectively) and while there is a greater use of vocal harmonies, particularly in Track 4, neither of these tracks seem to add much to the album. Don’t get me wrong, they are a great listen with groove-filled beats and riffs but it would be nice to hear something different. This does however happen in the following few tracks.

Tracks 5 & 6: Vibing Out & Ganggu
Reaching the half way point of the album, things slow down dramatically in Track 5 (Vibing Out) with the use of a beautiful, if slightly self-indulgent vocal set to sparse organ accompaniment. This then develops with a half-time drum beat giving a clear sense of rhythm and pizzicato strings add an almost orchestral feel to the track. Towards the end of the track, further interest develops with the overlaying of sung vocals and spoken ones helping to keep your attention right to the final note. Equally, Track 6 ‘ Canggu’ wakes you up from the slightly sleepy sound with a return to the seductive atmosphere of the opening track. This time though, it is much more driven and full of story telling in both the vocal samples and a saxophone line where tension seems to grow and grow. For me, these tracks are by far the stars of the show.

Tracks 7 & 8: Blessed & Die with a Smile
Track 7 ‘Blessed’ continues to take us away from the self-indulgent aspects with brilliantly chilled beats, funk influenced organ and guitar riffs and a main vocal with some haunting syllables. In contrast, Track 8 ‘Die with a Smile’ returns to the vibe of Track 5, but unlike that track, this one isn’t a favourite of mine. It’s quite clever, but I don’t really know why it’s there. This said, the second half of the track is entirely different and with an unexpected transition to double-time beats and multi-tracked saxophone, I can easily forgive what came before.

Tracks 9, (10) & 11: Lying Together Interlude, Lying Together & Joy
Getting to the final part of the album, we hear what are two versions of the same track and I just don’t get why they are both needed. The first version of ‘Lying Together’ (Track 9) seems to essentially be an extended introduction to the main one but why have it as a separate track? The second version, which makes more sense, is more enjoyable however when I say enjoyable, this is if you manage to block out the highly annoying vocal part! Unfortunately, for me, after the first couple of listens these tracks have turned into skip-able ones which made me worry if this was setting up a disappointing ending to what is a strong sounding album. Thankfully I was completely wrong as both Track 11 (Joy) with its full on funky feel and Track 12 (Why Are There Boundaries) with its sense of self-indulgence form the perfect ending.

French Kiwi Juice’s self titled album FKJ is available to stream via Soundcloud and to purchase via iTunes now.

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