French indie pop can, it seems, go in one of two ways: it can either be really enjoyable and fun with songs that are composed and arranged in a way that strives to be a little different, interesting and quirky (a recent example being French/Finnish outfit The Dø), or it can just be utterly forgettable and/or twee that it does nothing so much as infuriate.
It’s this fine line that Singtank, comprised of brother and sister duo Josephine and Alexandre de La Baume, tread with their debut LP, In Wonder, following on from their The Party EP from last year. With Nellee Hooper (Massive Attack, Björk) behind the desk on production duties this is an album that is pretty direct and punchy for the most part and sports a varied range of styles and enough good songs to warrant repeated listens.
Every song comes replete with a big hook with which to lure in the listener in. When it works the results are satisfying, even toe-tappingly brilliant. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the excellent standout, Superstar. The chorus, which sounds a bit like At The Indie Disco by The Divine Comedy, bursts into life and immediately transforms the track into something truly special. Meanwhile, Limits Of My Fingers employs the flair of Franz Ferdinand for a track that just falls on the right side of melodrama. There’s also the infectious Never Love Again, which has a simple-yet-effective refrain that will linger long in the memory.
For all of its strengths, what prevents In Wonder from being a sparkling debut are a few wrong turns that pause the momentum, something which a reordered track listing might’ve fixed. Blue is a pretty song but it feels very out of sync when placed after the buoyant and energetic album opener The Party, whilst closer Sirens signs off on a whimper rather than a bang.
Yet the hit-to-miss ratio leans firmly towards the former for Singtank. Downsides can be overlooked, for their charm doesn’t appear too try-hard. If they were keen to impress they’d perhaps plump for more hi-tech equipment – the synths and keyboards sound rather lo-fi – but they know that the song is more important than the tools used to mould it, and it’s to their credit that they’ve not gone overboard in the studio. Consequently, if you like your pop unfussy but vibrant, colourful and lots of fun, then In Wonder might just be what you need.