It’s probably best to get this out of the way early: Max Drummey, one half of LA-based pop duo Chester French, is that scraggly-haired gentleman who was briefly entangled in the strange celebrity web that is Peaches Geldof’s life.
The pair were married after a whirlwind romance that saw Geldof ditch her rock star boyfriend, Faris Badwan from The Horrors, in favour of Drummey. That the relationship lasted only six months is irrelevant and not altogether surprising, but it is, unfortunately, the most exciting story surrounding this preppy, eager-to-please power-pop duo.
That the band were the subject of a bidding war between Kanye West and Pharrell Williams (eventually won by Williams, who signed them to his Star Trak imprint), sets the musical bar far too high for what is, essentially, a pleasant enough pop album but hardly anything to get your cheque book out for.
The band have said their aim is to fuse different genres of music – from hip-hop to swing to rock to country – and they clearly aren’t lacking in self-belief. The self-explanatory Introduction finds singer DA Wallach aping Devendra Banhart of all people, whilst the inexplicable Country Interlude is nearly six minutes worth plucked guitar and electro-noodling. Perhaps Williams referring to them as “genius” has gone to their heads because Love The Future is hampered severely by trying to do too much with what little you have.
For example, the orchestral pop of Fingers aims for Beach Boys style harmonies and lush swooping strings but somehow manages to sound like a poor facsimile of Panic At The Disco‘s last album. Somewhere along the line the band decided to worry less about the songs and more about how they were going to sound once they got them into a big studio.
Lyrically, they show their age. Tales of broken relationships read like a script from The OC, whilst women in general get a pretty raw deal. The electro-lite Bebe Buell features this charming couplet, “They said there’d be drunk and hot girls, but I don’t want to mess with no sluts”, whilst recent single (and album highlight, if that’s the right word) She Loves Everybody shows the lads always think about safety first, “well she craves affection, so I wear protection”. (In America, the CD single was packaged like a giant condom wrapper, which no doubt amused the fraternity brothers).
There are some moments where the duo forget about trying to impress with an orchestra or depress with some light misogyny. Neal is a catchy swing meets modern R&B workout that recalls Outkast circa their misguided Idlewild film venture, whilst Not Over You sounds like Phoenix in its sleek pop sharpness. That these two songs and the aforementioned She Loves Everybody all appear in the album’s last third means that by then the damage has already been done.
Undoubtedly, Love The Future shows some promise, but it also shows too readily their limitations. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high of course, but at the same time that other dictum of not being able to polish a turd also rings true. The band’s way with a catchy hook and a summery, laid back vibe may yet see them overtake Maroon 5, but that’s where their lofty thoughts should settle for now.