[12 January 2011]
On the 2009 self-titled debut album, the musicians in French Miami positioned themselves as exemplars of the frenetic, mathy post-punk sound. The group’s latest effort, an EP called Motor Skills, shows the trio in an entirely new light: they’re a band of crafty experimentalists, eager to test out new directions and explore uncharted aural terrains.
The Brooklyn-via-San Francisco act hasn’t entirely abandoned the chaotic zeal of that first album, and the impassioned sound of French Miami is alive in Motor Skills. It’s just been transposed into a smoother, kraut-rock-like style that suits the group’s electronic undertones and gives deftly calculated change-ups room to breathe.
Motor Skills works best when French Miami strikes a balance between the hyperactive pop-songwriting of the band’s zygotic sound and the ambient quality of its new direction. Songs like “Suge Night Driving” and the titular “Motor Skills” bounce with a kinetic flair and morph into an airy, hypnotic funk. Though not every song glides by with a collected cool, Motor Skills is an unexpected treat.