Name-changer / Francis / Starlite / Game-changer
I am inundated with the feeling that anyone who had a childhood will connect with this album one note in. From the first utterance of rhythmic sound, I am helplessly transported to my Toy Story filled past. This whole album could be the soundtrack to the live action movie version with Francis playing Woody.
I mean, Drake has even quoted one of his songs. Not only that but the one and only Kanye West decided to descend from his self-appointed seat at the right hand of the father to collaborate with Francis. Maybe it’s something to do with referencing lights. Ye loves lights. All of the lights. Thank You, Francis. You have certainly made something of yourself.
‘Just For Us’
As I said at the beginning of this article, the whole thing qualifies as a soundtrack to the second greatest trilogy of all time (after The Lord of the Rings). The soft, mellow and invitational tinkling on the piano and gentle hum of the kick drum in ‘morning’ welcomes you to the album with open arms and a warm blanket. From there, Francis uses a combination of acapella style vocals and percussion intermittently throughout the record. These songs break up the varying degrees of electro beats and voice synthesized tracks. ‘Back in Time’ and ‘cruise’ are funky, bassline leading chocolate chips chucked into the mixer. The space invader keys, smooth percussion and 80s vibes bring the sound of Peter Gabriel to the party.
‘Faithful’ slows the record right down with a piano-heavy love song accompanied by quiet yet spirited scales in the background. This is a promising love song. ‘Scream so loud’ and ‘I won’t lie to you’ glides into the folds with stretched, electronic vocals and distorted backing tracks. The layered vocal and futuristic, fuzzy pop sounds exemplify why Justin Vernon loves to work with this guy. ‘Breaking up’ and ‘Never Back’ have a sadder story to tell and, being back to back tracks, resound off each other fabulously. With the orchestral, string-heavy outro, the relief and joy are felt here before we ‘Cruise’ into the momentum the departing track uses to finish off the record.
At the start of 2017, Francis played a handful of gigs in Europe including two in London. Heaven was lucky enough to have him within its walls for a one-off show and he also supported The xx when they played at the O2 Briton. Alongside these, he played a show in Amsterdam and Paris. With any luck, he’ll be back on our streets early this year.
Still not convinced? Watch and listen to the link above. A beautiful stripped back minimalist video of his song ‘Friends’ with Bon Iver and Kanye. Keep up to speed with what Francis is up to from his Tumblr.
Are you listening to Bon Iver/anything Justin Vernon touches, Randy Newman, Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel? This music is a beautiful combination of all the above. Cleverly woven 80s and 90s pop music with modern, light electronic indie folk.