Frank (Just Frank) The Brutal Wave

Borrowing sounds from the '80s indie universe, Parisian duo Anthem and KD, performing as Frank (Just Frank), have created a fantastic debut album filled with hooky songs. They fuse French, icy, cold wave beats and synths with warm Smiths and R.E.M.-esque chiming guitars, as well as abstract lyricism. The contradictions don't end with the music; they pervade the entire album, from the lyrics to the stark grey and bright pink CD jacket, which depicts a WWII sympathizer having her head shaved in shame. It creates a sense of menace and paranoia that infiltrates the tracks sung in the band's native French. Still, a wall remains between the two musicians and listeners ― there's no sense we're getting any glimpse into who these guys are. The standoff nature is nothing new, but these guys do it with panache, inviting us in then giving us nothing. It's just another contradiction in the band's intricate and compelling web of deceit. (Wierd)