It's been a long time coming, but today sees the release of the much anticipated (well at least it has been by me), debut album, 'Dream of the Inbetween' from French Wives. If you frequent this blog then you'll know that 1) I don't do reviews and 2) that I fucking love this band. So rather than cobble together some half arsed attempt at a review, I asked Scott from the band to write up this little Track By Track for me. He's a funny wee bugger is our Scott, or at least he thinks he is. All that you really need to know is that it's a cracking wee album that gets the Peenko seal of approval. Anyway, enough about me here's what Scott had to say about the Dream of the Inbetween,
I feel like I should say early on that I’m perhaps not the best person to provide insight on lyrical content/themes. This is largely because I’m a moron. Thankfully, for those of you who want to know what the words n that are all about, Stuart has done a similar track by track elsewhere. For those of you who wish to endure my chat, I’m mainly going to offer rubbish stories and tales of our of tune guitars. Still here? Good. This was actually one of the first songs we wrote for the album, the initial musical idea starting to take place towards the end of 2010. I particularly like the backing vocals in the pre-chorus, especially since the way Tony* has recorded them makes them sound all synthy and cool. In between (see what I did there?) the sessions with Tony we recorded some shouty bits during the loud parts of the instrumental section- trying to be The Young Knives, basically. They were rubbish, and that’s why you can’t hear them, but we had a lot of fun shouting. Particularly Siobhan. A lot of rage.
This was the first single to be released way back last October and most of it was recorded during a stand-alone session. It was our first time working with a string quartet and Siobhan did a cracking job with the arrangement. It also features my debut as a percussionist, slamming that tambourine during the chorus. This, like Modern Columns, also came into fruition quite early during the writing sessions. I’m really pleased that we went for it with the big chorus. Initially we had the verse and I played the chorus the way it is as a bit of a pisstake, but Stuart thankfully talked me round into putting it in with the reasoning that if others can get away with big choruses like that, why can’t we? I think we just about pull it off, or I hope so anyway!
This song forms the basis of a lot of the lyrical themes on the album, but you’ve been warned about reading them here! This was, embarrassingly, the first song I’d ever written in open tuning so the chords were a bit of an experiment at first but it made the hook really easy to come up with. It was also the first time I’d recorded with an e-bow. Tony likes e-bows. I became similarly obsessed very quickly.
We were all really keen on having something in the middle of the album that could tie themes together both lyrically and musically. It’s something that can be quite hit and miss on records, especially with the nature of skipping tracks from the iPod generation. However, we were quite passionate about the album flowing like an album so we decided to just go for it. A fun fact is that the delayed guitar towards the end of the track (yes, the one that sounds like The Edge) is actually taken from the demo we made of it very rustically at our studio before we started working with Tony. Chris thinks that this entitles him to a production credit on the album now!
Me vs. Me
This is literally the oldest song in the history of French Wives. What started out as a 15 minute opus complete with melancholic keyboard intro has been stripped down time and time again to the incarnation we have now. The backing vocals, thankfully for me, are forgivingly low in the mix as they were done in a bit of a rush due to lack of time at the end of the sessions, but I really like the 60s style guitars in the bridges, which was something I did for a bit of a laugh during recording that stuck. Most of the things I do, it seems, are initially for a bit of a laugh.
This song was borne out of frustration that we were taking so long writing songs. To combat this we set ourselves a challenge of sorts to write a song in half an hour and this is basically the result. As such it’s very repetitive and hooky but I see them as entirely good things. The first recording takes of it were very clean and seemed to be missing something, so the decision was made to make it really quite dirty which is unlike anything else on the record. I was sent into the live room with an overdrive pedal and an analog delay pedal and told to make noise. Red rag to a bull there. The distorted vocals are really cool too. We did a gig last night where Stuart’s mic was fucked and all the songs had distorted vocals of sorts. Best Sleep Tight has ever sounded.
When we play this live Stuart (with his tongue firmly inserted in his cheek) sometimes announces it as “our big hit.” As such it was quite nerve-wracking changing the arrangement quite so much from the one that, for the majority of people who know our band, is how we’d been identified sonically. As much as people cling to the old version, I hope that people can see the same improvement in the new one that we can. The chorus is a lot smoother and poppy, and the production is generally a bit more ambient which I think in the context of the album as a whole is a bit more suitable than an attempt to go all out and be anthemic.
Month of Sundays
I WAS ALLOWED TO USE A WAH WAH PEDAL ON A FRENCH WIVES RECORD. I never thought that day would come. Years ago the band banned me from using one, with my pedal suspiciously disappearing shortly after. This song is really poppy, again borne from a riff that was created just for a laugh. I should really start taking things more seriously!
This was our attempt to throw everything into a big production in order to create a big tune, if you will. Obviously the brass part was created through me having a laugh at a midi keyboard, but you probably could have guessed that by now. I think this song might largely replace Halloween as our kind of calling card, but that’s no bad thing. The motif from The Inbetween is repeated here with the key a tone up. If I was a total wank I’d say that the moving it up a tone is meant to show the increased hopefulness through the songs of the album, but I’m fairly sure it was just an accident. In the studio we used to joke that Tony had a pop machete that he used to cut down songs to make them 3 and a half minutes long. We had to really beg to keep the end bit as long, but I think that it works with all the different parts being introduced what with more guitars, the strings and then the brass.
Siobhan, Stuart and I came up with the basic progression and melody for this one day years ago in Jordanhill and we always loved the violin moving in harmony with the guitar melody, but we could never really come up with a suitable arrangement for it, which got to the point where Stuart started harvesting a lot of the lyrics for other songs. The problem was that we were trying to make it too grand and too big, always crescendoing into something. We solved that problem by stripping it back and focusing on the things that we loved about it in the first place- the melodies. Because of this and the way the synth part dies at the end it was an obvious choice for the album closer.
'Dream of the Inbetween' is out now today on Electric Honey Records, all of the details that you need in termsn of how to get hold of a copy can be found on the bands homepage. Also, to celebrate it's release they're playing a free show at The Captain's Rest tonight (Monday 7th May). Doors are at 7.30pm and seeing as entry is on a first come first served matter, youd' be best to get down nice and early.
* Tony Doogan who produced the album