French For Cartridge - Liquorice

Richard Wink 22/02/2010

Rating: 4/5

After wasting twenty minutes of my life on I wondered just what my life had become. Here I am, a hack, a pseudo-journalist that secretly harbours a desire to write for the NME, stuck in a pathetic vortex with the light quickly fading on my 'career' aspirations. I have to face facts that it is wrong to procrastinate at this moment in time where every minute counts. Despite this I merrily clicked though the link a friend sent me to witness nothing but ugly bored teenagers sitting on their beds and a variety of men masturbating at their webcams. Now I must summon the strength to sit through French for Cartridge's latest release Licquorice.

Yet another art pop duo - Goldsmith College alumni Catherine Hentz and Henri Vaxby batter us with candy canes on opener 'Oooh!', a maddening blur of Dresden Doll like Vaudeville shenanigans that juts and jerks along a curious pantomime rhythm. Then we head to lo-fi land on 'Loosening The Structures' which sees Henri offering Graham Coxon-like contemplation. There is a glorious drizzling doddle of raindrop keys that straddle the track like an ant on a wildebeest, as the guitar strings are haphazardly hacked at in the final third.

Hentz's voice is childlike in tone, and fits well with the wonderment and enthusiasm on display. See this is not art pop in the po-faced ironic sense. When things get serious on 'A Hundred And One' we are still in a land of make believe, acting more as a pause of thought the song pairs well with 'TV Dinner' which again sees Hentz adopting the voice of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's Alice as she sings to herself in front of the warped mirrored piano.

Yep it's all nice; bitter cupcakes, sour rainbows and antiquated French bon bons. Hentz provides the naïve optimism; Vaxby produces the self-inflicted tension and trepidation. Sunshine flickers through the grey clouds on 'Little People' and the thoroughly delightful 'Silhouettes' that sees Vaxby acquire the services of the tailor who kits out the thin white duke for one song only.

Liquorice is an early contender for sleeper hit of the year, fusing together mischief and inventiveness. The album branches out beyond the usual constrained art pop boundaries, flying out of the common room and landing smack bang into the exhibit hall.