French Kicks Swimming

After four-and-a-half albums, it feels like Brooklyn’s underappreciated French Kicks have reached their peak and now seem happy to sit up on the plateau. Though 2004’s The Trial of the Century wasn’t a certified masterpiece, it was their best, and 2006’s Two Thousand was indeed a satisfying but slow-growing follow-up, but Swimming gives the sense that French Kicks are just treading water. There’s little forward progress, other than the very loose and laidback arrangements, and vocalist/drummer Nick Stumpf now sharing singing duties with guitarist Josh Wise. It sounds major since Stumpf’s croon has helped sculpt the French Kicks sound, but Wise’s voice on the four songs sounds like mimicry, almost like he was instructed to sound similar. Be thankful for that because the resemblance actually helps Swimming, since the guitarist contributes the album’s strongest moment, the finger-snapping "Said So What.” Not a bad album by any means, but one of these days French Kicks are going to need to either make that masterpiece or move in a completely different direction. (Vagrant)