Unpopular Advent 2014 - Day 17: French for Rabbits - ‘Spirits'
New Zealand has certainly been something of a roll in recent times, with numerous placings in my various end of year lists of pleasure. French For Rabbits first cropped up on my radar with their utterly beguiling ‘Claimed By The Sea’ EP and if 2013 was marked by an apparent stony silence, it would appear that the year was in fact spent preparing for the ‘Spirits’ album that dropped in the second half of 2014. To say it was eagerly awaited would be an understatement, for ‘Claimed By The Sea’ was such a charming artefact that threaded its sweet roots deep into my soul.
‘Spirits’ did not disappoint, with ten pieces of whispered hymns sounding like dark corners of forests and coastal pathways shrouded in mist. From the middle distance spectral forms ebb and flow with a glimmer of seductive promise. It’s a promise that feels so real yet hovers always just out of reach.
If you are ever at the lost gardens of Heligan in Cornwall there is a crystal grotto where a gloomy, delicious dampness pervades the air even on a sparking summer afternoon. French for Rabbits sound for all the world like that grotto, and that is no bad thing. If you wanted more tangible references though, well, I will show my age now and suggest that French For Rabbits conjure thoughts of the likes of Kendra Smith or Hope Sandoval. These are parallels that I know have already been drawn, and that does not diminish them. Certainly one could have imagined ’Spirits’ sneaking out on 4AD in the late 1980s and not looking or sounding out of place. It recalled at times too the splendid sound of Virginia Astley, Heidi Berry, or of that lovely single Sara Davis recorded for the September label. Or if you need your references more up to date(ish) you might hear a splash of Beach House and a sliver of their New Zealand contemporaries Tiny Ruins. All of which is pretty fine company to be in, whichever way you cut it.