The Truffauts - Sycamore

13 songs
43:45 minutes
***** ****


Named after the great French Nouvelle Vague film director François Truffaut, this indie rock band has been around for almost 30 years now. Formed shortly after their idol’s demise, a first album came out in 1987, making Sycamore the already twelfth release of the Truffauts. And after all these years, it is apparently still a mystery if the quartet is a bunch of French guys living in Germany, or more precisely Nuremberg, or if they are simply Francophile Germans.

This conundrum will not be solved on their new album either. Once again, as in the past, the band is coming along with French and English lyrics, although the former ultimately can be heard on one song more than the latter. Stylistically, The Truffauts are all about indie rock, sometimes in a joyful noisy fashion with a certain pop punk appeal, and at other times resorting to a mellower mood of melancholy. Even though they switch as swiftly between French and English lyrics as they switch between fast and slower material, you will never feel ripped out of the listening experience. The band’s strongest appeal is of course their very mature songwriting, but it also helps that they never dwell too long on any single idea. The thirteen songs are mostly quite short, which adds a little to a devil-may-care punk attitude. Everywhere I Go for instance starts with a guitar melody that reminds me strongly of an old Buzzcocks classic... Is this a hidden tribute or just a mere coincidence? While I overall prefer the band’s crunchier side, their ballads have also a lot of charm and honesty, which can be heard on L’amour en fuite and Je n’ai rien compris. Maybe French is just a really good language for ballads. One song - Combien de fois - comes even in three totally different versions. On the opener it is a fast paced indie punk track, later it is repeated as a heartfelt ballad brimming with emotions, and then towards the end it comes as a psychedelic Sixties beat track. The band’s shortest track is the claustrophobic L’ascenseur meurtrier which doesn’t even make it over two minutes and tells the story of the vocalist’s fear of elevators in a most hectic way. The album’s concluding Pieces is with its five and a half minutes atypically long and emphasises the quartet’s love for noise rock, in a very refreshing Nineties manner.

Apart from the high quality songwriting and the smart running order of the different songs that guarantee not a single moment of boredom, I also want to point out the very straightforward production that gives you the impression of a band performing live in the studio. Every instrument has just the right amount of presence, and the vocals come with a nonchalance that makes you believe that the Truffauts might just be a French band after all. Or is it just a very smart act? I won’t solve the puzzle this time, but do urge you to check out Sycamore, a fantastic album by a band that has been around for many decades and still show absolutely no sign of attrition.

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