Brave Mountains

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Appletop are probably the least French sounding French band in the history of France. Comparisons have been made to Sebadoh, Pavement and Teenage Fanclub but the reality can be something far more clean-cut, say Deacon Blue or The Magic Numbers, especially in tracks like "Headstrong" and "Twenty Five" which open this record. The fact that Appletop have stuck these particular tunes at the top of Brave Mountains perhaps says something about the path that they eventually wish to follow. Chart glory and radio play seem like a distinct possibility. As the album progresses though, the music does indulge itself with some nods to slightly more alternative sources, like the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub with their fuzzpop three minute model. There's darker moments too, particularly the mid album brace of, "Nikolai" and "New Again" which has a perfectly slow overdriven guitar riff and frustrated shouty chorus. It's decent listen but not one that'll stick around in the memory for ever more. When it comes to the rockier moments, there's a string of bands that have done this sound previously, and done it better (Weezer > The Thermals > Yuck). The overall impression is that this is the sound of a band dithering, not quite knowing which noises to make. It just makes me wonder what it'd be like if Appletop had continued as they started, with an album full of pure pop tunes like "Headstrong", it may well have been great, it may well have been tedious... but for now, we'll just have to make do with this.