Steven Adams & The French Drops “Virtue Signals” (Hudson Records, 2018)

It may be fast-approaching a decade since indie heroes the Broken Family Band decided to call it a day, but lead singer Steven Adams has remained prolific, releasing numerous records under a variety of monikers. The latest of his musical ventures is fronting The French Drops, who release their debut full- length ‘Virtue Signals.’

The record kicks off with lead single ‘Bad Apples’. A tirade against right-wing bullshit patriotism, Adams sings “you say you love the Queen, she’s not there for you”, firmly aiming his barb at backwards, flag-waving Brexiteers. The rest of the record follows a similar, morose theme, and on the Father John Misty-esque lament of ‘Last Century’s Man’, the frontman rues “whoever said it would be easy, they didn’t know anything”. It’s familiar territory for fans of his previous material. Adams has a wonderful knack for a melody, and this provides a cheerful contrast to the downhearted lyrical tones.

‘Virtue Signals’ is nothing less than pleasant for its duration. The danger, however, is that at various stages, it all goes a bit middle-of-the-road. ‘Imprinted’ is a dreary, and instantly forgettable ballad, while ‘Wolves In The Echo Chamber’ is a Snow Patrol-style yawnfest. It is when Adams and co really push the boat out where the record properly shines. ‘Ex Future’ is a kitchen sink rocker, with racing guitar lines excitedly attempting to outpace each other, and the psychedelic romp of ‘Free Will’ pulses and flows intriguingly from the off, culminating in a full-on French Drops jam, showcasing the band’s full capabilities.

In The French Drops, Steven Adams has assembled himself a group of fine musicians which more than complement his trademark mellifluous sound. There is enough on ‘Virtue Signals’ to suggest that chameleon-like frontman Adams would be silly to ditch this latest project in a hurry. If they can combine the sugar sweet melodies with a bit more of adventure that has been hinted at here, then there is little question that this new band are onto a winner.

6/10

Summary

A hit-and-miss first release with plenty of potential

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