The Frites is a four-piece band out of Boerne, Texas (just outside of San Antonio). They formed to play gigs for fun and eventually began working on writing an album which would take just over a year to complete. This album was made by the four members independently. The band is made up of Connor Cook (vocals), Marc Rodriguez (drums, cello), Adam Majdi (guitar), and Conner Simmons (bass, guitar, keys).
Their latest 7-track release entitled Vallerie opens with "Joli". I get real pop-jazz vibes from this piece; that’s the way I’d define their style. It’s driven by a slowly punching beat, clean electric guitar chords and a tempered bass rhythm. These all combine in a restrained, catchy manner. The vocals are soft but passionate. They combine well with the softly strummed electric guitar chords and the small bursts of piano arpeggios which emerge later in the track. The chorus also packs a real punch in terms of the energetic vocals even though the instrumental is still beautifully sweet and soft. The Frites really get the dynamics just right without being too messy.
I did like the switch-up about halfway into this 5-minute track when the drums get a little frantic with the fillers and the guitar becomes a little more furious with a funky riff. The vocals also amp up the energy slightly, before diving back into the softer elements of The Frites’ sound afterwards. Some of the sliding electric guitar riffs are killer; these gorgeous moments gave me nostalgia and took me back to old-school Red Hot Chili Peppers. They know how to put together an explosive climax. There are so many layers of sound colliding here.
Driven by a slowly-punching beat and a distant organ progression, the even-jazzier title track "Vallerie" wastes no time getting started. It’s another stunningly soft yet simultaneously energetic passionate piece. As the vocalist sings “Vallerie, take me out of here” in the explosive/tender chorus.
They know how to throw together a catchy melody, a solid performance, but also multiple layers of sound to keep things diverse and interesting. They definitely chose the right track to title the album, and that seems an uncontested fact. I especially loved the screeching lip-bite-inducing guitar riff towards the latter half of the track.
They don’t hang around in any single genre; they pull influences from all over the place. That’s how you craft a unique sound. They’ve mastered screeching intensity in the guitar/organ solos as well as tender, fragile beauty in the more serene verses throughout the title track (and, indeed, throughout the album as a whole).
"All It Takes" is a much more melancholic song than its predecessors. I liked this unexpected switch-up. The Frites have diverse tastes, and this stripped-back acoustic track proves that. A dark chord progression is the backdrop to the vocalist’s haunted and deeply emotive vocals. He sings that “All it takes to feel okay is to be okay”, and this is something that really struck a chord deep within me. It’s open to interpretation, but it seems to be a sarcastic statement that it doesn’t really help when people tell you to “cheer up” if you’re struggling.
I liked Vallerie. There’s a lot of diversity but The Frites manage to craft a consistent sound of the most part. I was impressed by many of the melodies, to be honest. I look forward to hearing whatever they do next
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