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FOLLOW ME NOT – Vanishing Smile

by François Zappa

Not so many times, a cover has managed to capture in such a perfect way, the atmosphere of a record: the picture in black and white, of a kid thoughtful and confused because the platform over the sea, on which he is walking, is broken and there is no way of continuing, transmits the same feelings of innocence, nostalgia and confusion as the new Follow Me Not’s album. The French band started in 2009 as a solo project of Nicolas Guerroué and later, in 2016, bass player Mik Chevalier joined. From 2010 to 2014, they self-released four albums until they got signed by Unknown Pleasures Records that published Nothing Comes With A Smile in 2016, If The Sky Remains a year later and, a few months ago, this Vanishing Smile that we are going to review.

The album commences with “Reasons,” a song with a full-of-life chorus introducing us to these 45 minutes of post-punk with a touch of shoegaze. It continues with “Walls,” reminiscent of both of the alternative rock of the end of the 80s and the French coldwave, especially our beloved Little Nemo. Next is our favourite part of the album: a placid section with guitars influenced by the classic Darklands and full of melancholy that starts with “Vanishing Smile,” a track inspired, according to the band, by the movie It Follows by David Robert Mitchell. “Bliss,” the best song of the album, sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chains without the candy, only the sadness, in a tune where the acoustic guitars stand out. In “When Winter’s Gone,” there is a beautiful contrast between the wall of distortion and the warm sound of whistles. With “Care less,” we arrive at the middle of the album (this song and the next one appear only in the CD edition meanwhile we can find “Nonsense” only on vinyl) and it’s another intense song with a catchy chorus. 

“Sunday” is another track full of sadness, the kind of songs that, according to me, Follow Me Not is better at, with hair-raising and fragile vocals. This description can perfectly fit the following song: the catchy “Dreaming,” another of the best moments of the album. In “My Pulse,” one of the darkest songs of Vanishing Smile, we find synths and post-punk guitars. “Strange Strangers” is the atmospheric moment of the album that gets us ready to jump into the sea and dive in the melancholy of “Farewell” where it’s not difficult to imagine the kid from the cover saying goodbye to a summer that is gone and will never come back. It’s undoubtedly another of the great songs of the LP.

I must confess that, at the very beginning, it has been a bit difficult for me to get in the album, but once I managed to get in the mood, the submersion was complete. Vanishing Smile is an album of easy and catchy melodies, full of melancholic songs that will help us remember our lost youth as we wait for a summer that will never arrive.

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