How Am I Not Myself? is the sophomore recording by Los Angeles art punk combo French Vanilla. How Am I Not Myself? contains an absorbing set of tracks with a new sophistication and sonic cleanness that build on the energy and urgency of early tracks. Even the instrumentation has venture into more complex musical arrangements inspired by early 1980s post-punk, new wave, and even disco. I’m particularly fascinated by how vocalist Sally Spitz’s voice has evolved on this new album. It reminds me of how Debby Harry found her voice during those early Blondie years. French Vanilla is one of the best live bands around these days. One of my favorite albums of 2019.
RIYL: Priests, Essential Logic, Control Top, The World and Shopping.
1. (2:30) *Real or Not – Medium-up tempo. New Wave art punk. Makes me think of Martha & The Muffins of mid 1980s and The B-52’s. Catchy.
2. (2:35) **Lost Power – Medium-up tempo. Classic French Vanilla trademarks. Solid instrumentation. Memorable melody.
3. (2:34) ***All The Time – Medium-up tempo. Another impressive dancey art punk cut here.
4. (3:17) ***Friendly Fire – Upbeat tempo. Post-punk vibe. Devo-Blondie energy. Urgent. Totally playable.
5. (3:12) **Protective – Medium-up tempo. Timeless post punk atmosphere here. Guitar driven. Striking vocals.
6. (3:30) ****Suddenly – Medium-up tempo. Classic French Vanilla sound in its full glory. Perfect track. My favorite of the album.
7. (3:17) **Joan of Marc by Marc – [FCC: Fucking]. Medium-up tempo. Think of early Nina Hagen. Vivid.
8. (3:19) **Bromosapien – Medium-up tempo. Another exciting classic French Vanilla sound attack. The Slits would be proud.
9. (3:22) **Move Along, Move Ahead – Medium-up/fast tempo. Post-punk/disco/mutant funk energy here. Non-stop fun.
10. (2:59) *Sensitive (Not Too Sensitive) – Medium-up tempo. Recording that could have been on the first album. Nonetheless impressive.