10 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With two members of Cold War Kids (one being vocalist Nathan Willett) at the core of French Style Furs, it’s hard not to think of CWC when listening to Is Exotic Bait. The lyrics are courtesy of mid-century philosopher/mystic/poet/monk Thomas Merton. Willett absorbed Merton's books on a CWK tour, and they deeply impressed the singer. With Willett’s marvelous, gangly yelp and disgruntled croon, lines like “I worry about the abbot coming up here/to inspect/and finding a copy of Newsweek/under the bed” make perfect sense—especially set (as they are in “Solitary Life”) to funky horns and percussion that seem like David Byrne and The Fire Engines collaborating. From the powerhouse opening track, “3 Friends” (which may have been an ode to Merton’s lifelong friendship with two intellectually and culturally likeminded college friends), to the willowy, weepy “Clairvaux Prison” (a lament to an abbey turned to a prison: “The bureaucrats, wiping the blood off their fingers”), the depths of Merton’s writings and the passion of French Style Furs’ music seem made for each other. It's a remarkable work.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With two members of Cold War Kids (one being vocalist Nathan Willett) at the core of French Style Furs, it’s hard not to think of CWC when listening to Is Exotic Bait. The lyrics are courtesy of mid-century philosopher/mystic/poet/monk Thomas Merton. Willett absorbed Merton's books on a CWK tour, and they deeply impressed the singer. With Willett’s marvelous, gangly yelp and disgruntled croon, lines like “I worry about the abbot coming up here/to inspect/and finding a copy of Newsweek/under the bed” make perfect sense—especially set (as they are in “Solitary Life”) to funky horns and percussion that seem like David Byrne and The Fire Engines collaborating. From the powerhouse opening track, “3 Friends” (which may have been an ode to Merton’s lifelong friendship with two intellectually and culturally likeminded college friends), to the willowy, weepy “Clairvaux Prison” (a lament to an abbey turned to a prison: “The bureaucrats, wiping the blood off their fingers”), the depths of Merton’s writings and the passion of French Style Furs’ music seem made for each other. It's a remarkable work.

TITLE TIME
4:09
3:06
3:18
2:53
5:27
2:39
3:08
3:04
2:39
4:56

About French Style Furs

Featuring Nathan Willett and Matt Maust of Cold War Kids and We Barbarians' Nathan Warkentin, French Style Furs go deeper into the soulful yet punky sounds of the group members' main projects. Maust and Willett connected with Warkentin while in New York City and began working on music together in early 2013, taking the project's name from a Greenpoint furrier. While Warkentin and Maust laid down basic tracks, Willett adapted the poetry of 20th century monk Thomas Merton -- whose writing grappled with social justice and spirituality -- into lyrics. With the help of collaborators including percussionist Stephen Hodges and Dirty Projectors' Haley Dekle, French Style Furs completed their first full-length, Is Exotic Bait. The album, which producer Nick Launay mixed, arrived in July 2014. ~ Heather Phares

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