French Power Pop? Oui! Mondrian and Julien Pras

Mondrian “Isn’t It Fun”
Melodic alt. pop from France starts out pretty unassuming with the light harmonies on “Paris,” but the “Last Breakfast On Planet Surf” delves into classic Kinks styled narrative and beat. The quirky electro folk of “LHG” and “Rise and Fall of A Golden Boy” show a willingness to experiment, and lead singer Roman Oswald sounds similar to Pete Brewis of Field Music. You have some terrific compositions, like the dual tracked banjos and flute on “Love, A Collision” and the synth textured “A Kiss A Day.” Itunes only has the band’s EP, but that has the exclusive tracks “Whippersnapper” and a live collaboration with the legendary Van Dyke Parks “Sail Away Lady.”

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Julien Pras “Shady Hollow Circus”
Julien Pras is one of those gifted French songwriters, singing in perfect English with a striking similarity to Elliott Smith especially on the opener “Seven More Hours.” The intricate guitar and melancholy of “Angel of Mercy” is positively mesmerizing.

Pras’ soft and melodious voice drifts through each tune effortlessly. It fades into the psychedelic “Radio Silence” and the next several tracks have highly stylized arrangements with orchestral touches, much like 10cc’s Original Soundtrack or Dynamo Bliss’ debut. But with many tracks over the four minute mark the LP starts to lose its immediacy. A final highlight is “Join The Dots” before it once again jumps into the abyss of the slow progressive melodies of “Daily Battles” and “Watchman Blues.” Although at this point the LP will only reward patient listeners, you should find a darkened room with some good headphones and just enjoy the trip.