The French Kicks hail from New York, but it's never suffered the overkill of that city's indie-rock scene. Ten years ago, the quartet began as a sloppy, sort-of-punk band that echoed Television's Marquee Moon. A few years later, the group tightened its sound into dapper, neo-garage rock on One Time Bells and The Trial of the Century. Most recently, the Kicks has mellowed out; its newest music aches with arching vocals, ambient keyboards and guitars as sparse and clean as raindrops. 2008's Swimming is a drifting album that recalls the simple pop of Simon and Garfunkel and Pet Sounds — although no matter how many tender, sunlit melodies and finger-snap percussion rhythms the band creates, it'll always be more Brooklyn than California.
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