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Le Futur Pompiste

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Album Review

The Finnish group Le Futur Pompiste first surfaced in 2004 with the release of an album (Your Stories and Your Thoughts) for the Spanish label Siesta. It was a pretty good record that was hindered by the blatancy of its devotion to Stereolab. From vocalist Jessika Rapo’s tone to the way the vintage keys were layered to the song structures, it came off as more of a tribute to Stereolab than an original Le Futur Pompiste record, a little better than that thanks to the occasional song that made an impression, but still kind of a dicey proposition. In the years between albums something must have clicked for them, because — while they still have a heavy debt to the sound of Stereolab — they come into their own a little more on their self-titled record for Shelflife. The group’s main songwriter, Einar Ekström, spent years crafting together bits of song ideas and sending them to the bandmembers, and after they got together and recorded the basic tracks, he spent another year working on overdubs and mixing. All the care he took comes through in the flawless sound of the album — it’s just as rich and warm, maybe even more so, than any Stereolab record. There are songs that stand with their catchiest songs ("Five Hundred Heartbeats," "My Trophy"), songs that have the same heart-tugging sweep ("Between Hours and Seconds"), and even a couple that really stretch out and end up sounding like the High Llamas instead ("Hunter," "Winter"). As before, Rapo is the strongest part of the band: her vocals have a clear purity cutting through all the lovely instrumental backing and hitting with an emotional punch. The rest of the group is no less impressive at concocting a sound that is at once familiar as can be and still fresh-sounding. Axel Ekström’s keyboard work is especially impressive. If Tim Gane starts a new project, he might want to give Axel a call. In fact, Gane could probably just squeeze right in on second guitar and feel right at home in Le Futur Pompiste's lineup — the same way a Stereolab fan could put this album on and feel right at home. Only this time it feels less like the band is squatting and more like it belongs in the same neighborhood.


Formed: Finland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Finnish indie pop outfit Le Futur Pompiste were formed in the tiny town of Vassa in 2000 by Einar Ekström, Ville Hopponen, and Johann Höglund. Vocalist Jessika Rapo and Einar's brother Axel joined the group a year later, and the band began crafting tracks in anticipation of a full-length album. Le Futur Pompiste's winning blend of '60s and '70s rock and Stereolab/Komeda-inspired Europop eventually caught the ears of Spanish label Siesta, which released the band’s 2004 debut, Your Stories...
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Le Futur Pompiste, Le Futur Pompiste
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