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Chester French - Love the Future Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7.75
Lyrics 6
Production 8.5
Creativity 7.75
Lasting Value 7.75
Reviewer Tilt 7.75
Final Verdict: 75%
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Chester French - Love the Future

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (04/25/09)
Chester French - Love the Future
Record Label: Star Trak/Interscope
Release Date: April 21, 2009

What is it with these Ivy League graduates? In 2007 and 2008, Columbia-educated Vampire Weekend burst onto the music scene with their Afro-Caribbean indie-rock and made a monumental splash, landing themselves a gig on Saturday Night Live sans record label. Now, another crop of Ivy League alums are threatening to stangle the music industry once again. D.A. Wallach and Max Drummey are two Harvard graduates who formed the duo Chester French while freshmen in Cambridge. Their debut full-length Love the Future contains songs the duo has spent more than seven years writing. Much loved and highly touted by Pharrell Williams, who signed the band to his label Star Trak/Interscope, Chester French plays a sprite brand of keyboard-fueled pop that at times sounds like a hipper, new millenium version of Billy Joel ("C'Mon" and "Time to Unwind") and other times sounds like Ben Folds ("Fingers"). Of the first half of the record, the most accessible songs are probably the synth-infused Beach Boys sheen of "The Jimmy Choos" and the art-pop of the lyrically silly "Bebe Buell."

And then there's the quirkiness.

The disc opens with acoustic ambience and a gnomic "Intro," which finds singer D.A. Wallach singing in a foreign language. That awkward ambiance is revisited with the quirky and enigmatic "Country Interlude," which comes across as more of a Latin-based ethereal effort, and the folksy "Beneath the Veil," the album's most mature song, both lyrically and musically. Why it comes so this late in the disc is an utter mystery. The duo returns to their sunny keyboard pop on the swing-meets-hip-hop sendup "Neal" and the by-the-book, hard-to-resist "Not Over You." The album's last two songs are probably some of their best. Despite the horribly filthy and amateur lyrics, "She Loves Everybody," is a nice, laid-back radio song and closer "Sleep," offers the kind of potential this band has in store for future releases.

It should be noted that Love the Future rides in on a wave of praise. To date the band has been feature as Spin's Who's Next `08 and Rolling Stone's Artists To Watch, and has Pharrell saying the following: "It's been a long time since I've heard a project teeming with this sort of musicality and originality. You're going to watch history unfold with these guys. I feel it in my gut." Pharrell's words seem like a bit of overblown hype based on the 13 songs offered here. While many of them are powerful hook-laden constructs that are similar to watered down Jellyfish or Fountains of Wayne, there's still something missing here. Lyrically the band is uninspiring and careless and that simple fact puts a huge strain on the music. While one can commend the band for trying something out-of-the-box and quirky with "Intro," and "Country Interlude," their placement here feels a bit strange.Yes variety is always commended and much-needed, but those two songs feel a bit artificial.

Love the Future is fortunate enough to be released at the right time. With spring starting to kick into high-gear, everyone needs an album to lift the spirits, invoke glee and feel buoyant. Love the Future definitely has the potency to do exactly that. So the pivotal question remains: In the battle of the Ivy League upstarts, is Chester French better than Vampire Weekend? As panged a confession as it is, they are decidedly not. Their songs are far more formulaic, predictable and by the book. There's little ingenuity here and save for a few transition pieces, not much that needs championing That being said, Chester French probably has a longer shelf-life ahead of them. The Vampire Weekend novelty will wear off soon, and the inherent talent of Chester French will come shining through. So in the battle of the Ivy Leagues, Columbia prevails for now. Harvard will make their mark later. Just ask Rivers Cuomo.

Recommended If You LikeBilly Joel, Ben Folds, The Argument, Jellyfish, Fountains of Wayne


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19.
04:04 PM on 04/25/09
#2
Marsbar
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They're playing here at Butler on Monday with Gym Class Heroes. I'm now a little more interested in seeing them live.
04:18 PM on 04/25/09
#3
Young Machetes
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I'm pissed Lady Gaga postponed her show here, I wanted to see these guys play too!
09:22 PM on 04/25/09
#4
iheartmusic043
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I like Chester French. They may be a little predictable but good nonetheless.
01:48 AM on 04/26/09
#5
HometownHero
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This album is pretty fucking good
03:14 PM on 04/26/09
#6
CarouselBoy
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not really into what I've heard on their myspace. Sounds sparse and hollow to me.
07:19 AM on 04/28/09
#7
Steve Henderson
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Vampire Weekend's music sounds genuine and refreshing. These guys come across as little more than a contrived gimmick to me.
08:25 AM on 04/28/09
#8
Kid B
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Do not like this album.
09:44 AM on 04/28/09
#9
quikrick11
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i think they are terrible and will be greatly dissapointed if Blink tours with them this summer
10:35 AM on 04/28/09
Mattylikesfilms
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Only has some good songs... Bleh
11:53 AM on 04/28/09
iheartmusic043
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Vampire Weekend's music sounds genuine and refreshing. These guys come across as little more than a contrived gimmick to me.

I kinda agree. Vampire Weekend seems like they're true to their style and very talented while Chester French is kind of a one trick pony. They play like retro rock mixed with hip hop beats. Pretty much every song sounds similar. I do like their songs "She loves Everybody" and "Jimmy Choos" though.
12:07 PM on 04/28/09
Gregory Robson
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I kinda agree. Vampire Weekend seems like they're true to their style and very talented while Chester French is kind of a one trick pony. They play like retro rock mixed with hip hop beats. Pretty much every song sounds similar. I do like their songs "She loves Everybody" and "Jimmy Choos" though.
Totally agree, hence why it only gets 75 percent. I do think this band will tap into their creative outlets further down the line and VW will fizzle under the weight of their own egos. Just my two cents.
12:24 PM on 04/28/09
Marsbar
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Saw them live and am glad I didn't pay money for it. They were probably the third worst band I've heard live, including unsigned local bands.
12:24 PM on 04/28/09
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I thought these guys were over after Peaches Geldof, fair play for bouncing back.
12:27 PM on 04/28/09
Gregory Robson
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I thought these guys were over after Peaches Geldof, fair play for bouncing back.
You really think Peaches Geldof kicking Max to the curb would stop this band?
This is something they've been pursuing since 2001.
Re: the person that said they sucked live. That is awfully disappointing!
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