At the beginning of the year Scottish quintet French Wives were named in the top five “Blog Sound of 2012” as voted for by some of the UK’s top music blogs ( the idea being to provide an alternative to the BBC’s own “Sound Of” list.) Now it’s time for the band to come up with the musical goods with the release of their début album “Dream of the Inbetween” which is set to drop on 7th May.
Lead singer Scott gave us an exclusive low down on the album, track by track!
As soon as we’d finished this song I knew that I wanted it to be the first track on the album. I don’t really like it when bands tell you exactly what a song is about but without going into too much detail, this serves as a really good introduction to most of the main lyrical themes spread throughout the album. The modern columns in question are a set of buildings in Glasgow where I used to work (in the worst fucking job of all time) so they act as a symbol of discontent and misery. Cheery start to proceedings then!
This song was released as a single prior to completion of the whole album and as such was recorded separately in a stand-alone two-day session. I think the extra time that we were able to spend on it really shows as we were able to add lots of vocal harmonies that weren’t originally in the song and play about with a more elaborate string section too. This is what Tony (producer Tony Doogan, grumpy pop genius without whom this album might have been rubbish) describes as ‘balls to the wall’ in terms of production and always seemed the obvious choice to release as a single. I’m really happy with the lyrics in it but it’s not half a pain in the arse to sing. I always feel bad when we play it live as the other guys always nail their parts and sometimes I struggle to get my mouth round all the words. Sorry guys. Also, I invented a word in this song; ‘nepotist’, working definition – someone who benefits from nepotism.
The title of the album ‘Dream of the Inbetween’ was something I settled on quite early when writing lyrics. I got fairly obsessed with the notion of this ‘inbetween’ stage where you have to do all the boring, largely mundane, often frustrating but ultimately character building and very important things that will eventually get you to where you want to be. The lyric is taken from ‘Back Breaker’ so in a sense the album was really thematically written around this track. Chris also plays the bass line to Queen’s ‘it’s a kind of magic’ if you listen closely to the bridge. Please don’t tell them.
Even though this song is comfortably the shortest on the record I think it might actually be my favourite. I think it’s little songs like this that take a collection of songs and makes them an album. I love the guitar textures and the vocal harmonies and the idea of a really simple repeating lyric, which is used later in ‘Younger’. Also I feel I should address at this juncture to any pedants out there, I’m well aware that having ‘Inbetween’ all as one word is grammatically inaccurate but I think it looks better so fuck you.
Me vs Me
One of only two ‘old’ songs that feature on the album, the version that we’ve done with Tony is quite considerably different to the single version that was released a few years back. Before we would actually record anything with Tony we spent a long time discussing and altering the arrangements of songs until they were as good as they could be. When Tony first heard the single version of this song he said ‘ I will never unhear what I just heard’ so we spent quite a long time working on the arrangement and I think this works better. I like the Hot Chip-esque percussion over the verses, a phrase I had never anticipated associating with our music.
For people that are already familiar with our band, this song will probably seem like the furthest departure from our sound and I suppose that would be true. When we initially recorded it, all the guitars sounded quite safe and a little bland so Tony sent Scott into a room and demanded he made as much dirty guitar noise as possible and then treated the vocals in a similar way. It was a pretty exhilarating experience to do something so different but I think it still sounds like ‘us’, which is a good thing as it could’ve easily stuck out like a sore thumb.
The other of the ‘old’ songs and again, to some, a controversially different arrangement to the original that was released as our first ever single. There have been certain people (Chris’s mum) that have heard the album and expressed disappointment that this wasn’t just re-recorded and left alone. I think that it boils down to familiarity though, having listened to this version and the single version I think this is a vast improvement and in time, those who were big fans of the original will come around. I think the ‘big’ finish in the song is our attempt at ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ something which I only really realised after we’d finished it. At the time I said to Tony that I wanted it to sound ‘like Leona Lewis or something’. I think that says an awful lot about me and our band.
Month of Sundays
If I’m being totally honest I really struggled with this song initially. I just wasn’t comfortable with how it sounded and couldn’t decided if I even wanted it to go on the record. In hindsight I absolutely love it. I think it’s unashamedly poppy which is something you don’t hear too much of these days. Generally whenever I do hear something that is unashamedly poppy I think, I wish I had the balls to do that. I think Scott greatly enjoyed making silly noises on this.
I wanted to have a really big song to finish the album with, something epic, triumphant that we could really throw the kitchen sink at. ‘Younger’ is what we ended up with and I think it’s probably going to be the big stand out track from the record. I like that there’s a lot going on musically, particularly in the verses, but it doesn’t feel cluttered or unnecessary at any point. The big moment in the song with the repeat of the lyrics from ‘The Inbetween’ is one of my favourites on the whole album and I think will resonate with a lot of people. Either that or everyone will think it’s cheesy bullshit.
This is a bit of a funny one as it’s technically and old song but has been changed so dramatically it feels brand new. We could never quite figure out how to make it work properly but knew we had a solid idea of a chord progression, melody and the lyrics. We got so exasperated with it that we scrapped it and I actually went as far as harvesting lyrics from the original version for other songs as I really liked them (‘I’m in the gutter, I’m on my knees, I am the sickness, I am disease’ in ‘Back Breaker’). We finally decided to make it really simple and place all the focus on the lyrics and the vocal melody and I think it now works really well. It ties up all the lyrical themes and dies out nicely at the end making it the stick on choice to close the album.
Read our interview with French Wives HERE
To win a copy of the album answer the following question, which let’s face it makes GMTV’s competitions resemble Mastermind.
Who is Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife ? (clue she isn’t French)
A. Carla Bruni B. Sophie Marceau C. Marcel Marceau
Send your answers HERE marking the email header “French Wives Album”
Winners will be notified by email from 14/05/2012.
Good luck ;)