Swelling to nine members, Je Sui France delivers a scattershot third effort of impressive ambition yet underwhelming impact. With so many individuals involved and a collective unwillingness to rein in any impulse, the band covers an expansive range of sounds and styles but refuses to settle into any defined formula. That leaves Afrikan Majik lacking in identity as approaches vary wildly from track to track. The only cohesive factor is exuberance and at least a couple songs succeed in rousing that infectious sense of fun into rapturous glee. With dual basslines and ceaselessly swirling synths, “Whalebone” is a breathless and shimmering wonder not unlike !!! at their shape-shifting best. While these forays into krautrock and dance pay off for Je Suis France, their more orthodox indie tracks aren’t nearly as striking. Their appropriations of Pavement and Yo La Tengo on tracks like “That Don’t Work That Well for Us” don’t diverge enough away from their inspiration to qualify as much more than imitation. At a bloated running time of over an hour, the record could have stood up to the cuts and yielded a more forcefully concise statement.
// Notes from the Road
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