Measuring their existential environment in spacious passages and claustrophobic feel, French foursome present a mesmeric full-length debut.
It took this Rennes ensemble five years to gel and another two to form “Four Inches” as a sort of sonic edifice whose cosmic lines are impressive, if fabulously flawed, which makes the quartet’s prog rock proclivities rather human. Brilliant moments are abundant on the album, but the record’s big-sky production is combined with the suburban boredom of vocal delivery – deliberately so – to result in a somewhat disturbing experience, a perfect reflection of our lives. And while the collective try to introduce entertaining motifs to the eight mini-epics on display, they quite frequently fail, leaving the listener awestruck yet unfulfilled, and that should feel like a fine method to approach somebody’s first public offering.
What’s important is the fact that the group don’t limit their flight of fantasy to stylistic frontiers and fly their experimental flag right from the beginning, discarding any potential foolishness on the audience’s part with regard to these pieces’ titles and giving the platter’s opener “Fusion” a chance to announce its own agenda and reveal the group’s affection towards jazz-rock. Unhurriedly unfolding the tentative tune from the gradually increasing buzz courtesy of Maxence Marmieysse’s bass, the band fall into an exciting funky groove in which David Chollet and Dominique Blanchard’s twin guitars rage before letting one of their four voices bounce off Gabrielle Duplenne’s drums and get fleshed out in harmonies on the refrain until a wondrously polyphonic interlude and final riffs add flourishes to such a heady rush of optimistic passages. Still, the heavier “Vision” is also darker – and, surprisingly, highly danceable and melodically abstract, but once six-string solos start to soar, there’s no return to misty matters, and the effervescent “After Wichita” paints urban panoramas colored with ennui pastels and highlighted with acoustic strum, whereas “Nothing To Say” expands the album’s dynamic scope via delicately rocking instrumental ballad strands and silky singing on the choruses.
However, the multifaceted “Pretty Princess” brings intermittent crystalline transparency and coldness into the flow, allowing its cinematic effects, focused on children’s laughter, to unleash a punchy pulse instead of expected symphonic wave – only to dissolve the onslaught in the ruminative “The Ride Of Your Life” that marries twang to expansive vibrancy to solidify all the arresting little details into a new, much harder attack. And if “Morning Song” gives its mélange of light and shadow a fantastically dramatic slant, the titular denouement is an exquisitely sprawling summary of the ensemble’s abilities to embrace ethereal perspectives and release their resonant beauty. Elusive yet tangible, “Four Inches” comes across a distance everybody must go.