Review by Jack Foley
TAKE some chilled out, laid-back beats, add some scintillating female vocals,
and lay back and listen to one of the debut albums of the year.
Frou Frou look set to do for chill out in 2002 what the likes of Zero 7 and Morcheeba have been doing for some time; adding a new and exciting dimension to the musical medium - as well as providing the voice of the summer.
Comprised of Guy Sigsworth and Imogen Heap, Frou Frou take their name from the French lyrical term for the sound of swishing skirts, a sound which is said to have driven men delirious with desire at the Folies Bergères. It's an appropriate term, for men will swoon with desire while listening to Heap's hypnotic vocals...
The 24-year-old, 6ft tall London-based singer threatened to make a breakthrough in 1998, with her solo debut album, I Megaphone, which failed to get picked up by listeners. Ironically, however, the album marked the first union between Sigsworth and Heap, and it was the world-renowned collaborator [Sigsworth] who decided to reunite with Heap to create Frou Frou.
Sigsworth has worked with everyone from Madonna (on What It Feels Like For A Girl), Seal (for Crazy), and Bomb The Bass (Winter in July), so it should come as little surprise to fans of those tracks that his collaboration with Heap makes for an explosive combination.
Frou Frou combines Sigsworth's electronic post-dance rhythms with Heap's melodic vocals to create a truly rewarding listening experience; and one which will leave you breathless for more. As Heap has stated: "These are songs we've spent years putting everything into"; it is easy to see why. There isn't a bad track on Details.
From the string-laden beats of opening track, Let Go, to the feel-good rhythms of the debut single, Breathe In, Frou Frou continue to deliver tracks of shimmering beauty throughout the album, backed by some great lyrics. And Heap's vocal range is incredible, perfectly complimenting the mood of each track.
When she sings, 'I feel good all over' on Shh, so will you; yet when she laments 'I join the queue on your answerphone and all I am is holding breath - just pick up, I know you're there', on Hear Me Out, (one of the album's finest moments) you will want to answer. (The line is quickly followed by another gem, 'I'm a slow motion accident lost in coffee rings and fingerprints')
Dreamy lyrics such as 'these cucumber eyes are lying the more that I smile about it', from It's Good To Be In Love, merely add to the dreamlike quality of the album, making Details a genuine pleasure to be in the company of.
And, finally, when Heap toys with the idea of 'throwing it all away' (on Maddening Shroud), we can only implore her not to. Frou Frou have delivered the type of album which makes you happy to be alive, with vocals and wordplay which can help to put a smile on even the grottiest day. Make sure you add Details to your record collection soon!
1. Let Go
2. Breathe In
3. It's Good To Be In Love
4. Must Be Dreaming
6. Only Got One
8. Hear Me Out
9. Maddening Shroud
11. The Dumbing Down Of Love
12. Old Piano
13. Enhanced Section