As a rule of thumb, in music, safe is boring. The “nothing-ventured-nothing-gained” mentalities of artists (since Stravinski, really) have allowed for more boundaries to push, more thoughts to think, and more feelings to feel. Big French’s sophomore LP, Stone Fish, out April 26 on Wharf Cat Records, is a testament to coloring outside the lines, and the benefit of self-discovery through unfamiliar experience. On the surface, their single, “I Wanna New Rome,” is an intelligent, soft-spoken pop track, until it isn’t. Frontperson Quentin Moore’s hushed vocal harmonies calmly flutter over arpeggiating guitar and rumbling kickdrum that sounds like the bass is infused into it. This, on its own, is a solid song. It embodies a wooden cabin in some quiet forest where it’s forever autumn, a rejection of societal norms and what they sounds like.
BUT. Then, upon a closer listen, it seems to eat psychedelics. Manipulations on the reel-to-reel recording (the collaboration with Zach Philips is showing) play with your head, the sound fading in and out of the right and left side of your speakers (it’s even more nutty on headphones). And these minor deviations from convention demand your attention and participation, so that the political undertone of the lyrics can sink in. “Did I hear that correctly? And, if I did, what did that just do to me?” Estranged baritone vocals enter in the latter part of the song to finalize its out-of-step-ness, and solidify that you just experienced something…other.