(VLA Records, 2014)
Before I even drop in on the music here, I’ve got a confession to make – I was almost immediately predisposed to enjoying Das Modell before I’d even heard a note of their self-titled debut album. (Granted, I’m almost always in the mood to give a band styled as post-hardcore a chance, especially one from France.) But Das Modell aren’t from Paris or somewhere you may expect – instead, they’re from Besançon in the far east of France near the border of Switzerland. It’s about 250 km (that’s 150ish miles, Yanks!) from Strasbourg, one of my favorite places in the world – I’ve had quite a few glasses of afternoon Gewürtztraminer there. Besançon is also the capital of the Franche-Comté region. If you’ve never had Comté cheese in your life, you are missing out. Severely. In fact, I want some right this second. Comté me, somebody! I want to be embalmed with Comté and buried in a wine cellar. Afterlife, I’m good to go.
This has apparently turned into a travel blog. OK, wine and cheese rant over.
Das Modell make some decidedly non-French music, and that’s fine by me. In fact, I’m always curious – mainly because of my soft spot for the French – to see what sort of American music has crept into the record collections of and influenced French bands. Das Modell, a trio consisting of, simply, Camille, Julien, and Sylvain, have certainly snapped up their fair share of Dischord releases, and Fugazi is an obvious influence, but at least one of them clearly got his or her hands on Yank Crime, Drive Like Jehu’s masterpiece and a seminal post-hardcore album for any burgeoning guitar thrasher. Add to the mix the taut and thin axe-strangling of the Blood Brothers and you’ve got yourself a recipe for action. Pissed off action. All the words are “fighting words” now – shout ’em!
Still, it takes a fabulous guitar buildup before any words are even spewed on the album, as “Produits en série” (“products in series”) ratchets up tension for half its three-minute runtime. The vocals are brief and bellicose, and have the effect of a hammer to the face. (That’s “martelerà la face” in case that didn’t translate.) “Don’t Walk” is similar in that it lets the thrash do the talking, punctuated only intermittently by a shredded snarl. (I’m not sure which male sings lead, but he’s definitely from the Ian MacKaye school of barkage.)
“Bike Looser” (sic, maybe?) reigns in the band a little bit, and, along with “Verdun,” allows the listener a slight breather. I emphasize “slight,” because every single sound that Das Modell makes is through gritted teeth and clenched fists – the tempo is just a hair slower. “Bike Looser” is about calling the dude who stole your bike a loser. I think, again, because of the song title. Whatevs! Still pissed, I’m sure. I even think they’re shouting “I’m gonna kick your ass!” on “See You on the Track,” another breakneck anthem on an album full of breakneck anthems.
I love the French. I love post-hardcore filtered through a Drive Like Jehu lens. Das Modell satisfies both cravings to great effect. And, as I’m fond, an album of this type doesn’t need to overstay its welcome, and Das Modell certainly does not – it’s in and out in less than thirty minutes, and it’s only nine songs long. But that doesn’t mean it’s slight, either – it’s actually quite beefy, substantial in a uniquely flavorful French way. Mmm … beef and Comté and Gewürtztraminer. I know what I’m having for dinner.
RIYL: Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Mayors of Miyazaki, Blood Brothers, Jawbox