The buzz around hip Parisian rock band Stuck in the Sound started back in 2005 when they scored an underground hit with ToyBoy. The foursome could have gone down in music history as one-hit wonders. But Stuck in the Sound's latest album, Shoegazing Kids, confirms them as a major new fixture on France's indie rock scene.
Stuck in the Sound's debut album, Nevermind the living dead (released in 2006), featured a cover shot of a blonde toddler with her face smeared in chocolate. The band's second album, Shoegazing Kids, illustrates its teen-angst title with a photo of an adolescent girl, wearing a Stuck in the Sound T-shirt, gazing down at her shoes. A sign that Stuck in the Sound are about to grow up and leave childish things behind? One thing's for sure and that is that after six years' existence the Paris band have marked a decisive turning-point in their career with this second release.
Whereas Nevermind the living dead demonstrated Stuck in the Sound's technical prowess, showcasing the band's energy, the lyrical nature of their rock and their wild rollercoaster compositions, Shoegazing Kids is a more subtle, ambitious work. "We staked everything on emotion on this album, on the way the songs are delivered," says Stuck in the Sound's lead singer, José Reis Fontao, "By comparison, our debut album was much more about showing off what we could do."
Sound and vision
Having proved themselves on Nevermind the living dead, Stuck in the Sound were free to experiment on their second album. And they have significantly ratcheted up the volume, too, producing a powerful, hard-hitting sound rarely heard in French rock. The fact that Stuck in the Sound's second opus was mixed by the American sound engineer Nick Sansano - renowned for his work with the likes of Sonic Youth, Public Enemy and French rap stars IAM - gives Shoegazing Kids an added edge. Sansano has managed to capture the raw energy of the band's live shows and, at the same time, bring out the subtleties of their "indie rock" sound.
"We had a very clear and precise idea of how we wanted things to sound before we headed off to work with Nick in New York," says José, "We'd come up with an image or a colour for each track and Nick retranscribed our ideas perfectly, adding his own personal touch along the way. The resulting album goes way beyond our original expectations. This album has given us a real sense of achievement after all our years of hard work."
Stuck in the Sound are renowned for belting out vibrant pop-rock anthems at their live shows that get audiences singing along unrestrainedly - Delicious Dog and the famous ToyBoy being two of their best to date. The band's second album includes two potential stadium-shakers, the brilliant Shoot Shoot and the enigmatic OUAIS, a sort of "dance-rock epic" lasting well over five minutes on which José demonstrates the full range of his vocal capacities, hitting some impressive high notes. "I think I've got a bit better at controlling my voice since the first album," the man in question admits, "I've come to accept that there are moments where my vocals should fade into the background a bit and be on the same level as the other instruments. That's something I've learnt from the American bands we've been listening to recently."
Shoegazing Kids is clearly infused with teen spirit from beginning to end. "This album is designed to appeal to the sort of teenagers we were once ourselves," admits José, "Solitary angsty types!" Stuck in the Sound appear to have formed a particularly close rapport with their teenage fanbase since their last tour in 2007. "Teenagers are our hardcore fans," says José, "And I know when I was their age I'd love to have been able to talk to the bands I followed. We keep in close contact with our teenage fans, communicating a lot on social networking sites like myspace. And we always make an effort to mix with the audience after all our concerts in France." A policy Stuck in the Sound have vowed to continue on their next tour which, if attended by their fervent teen following, should be a memorable event indeed!
Translation : Julie Street