Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The Summer of Love Returns: Ex en Provence ‘Mrs. Tambourine Girl’

Free-flowing, beatnik prose fused with psychedelic indie-rock nostalgia all comes together on alt-pop duo, Ex en Provence’s second release ‘Mrs. Tambourine Girl’.

The duo consists of Londoner Samuel Deschamps, previously the vocalist for the art-pop outfit La Shark and Berlin-based musician and producer Jan Blumentrath who was formerly associated with Interglactic Republic of Kongo and Eliot Sumner. 


The two met after sharing the stage at various gigs, instantly connecting as friends before agreeing to collaborate. Think Alex Turner & Miles Kane, but less ‘Men Behaving Badly’ and more the stylish exploits found in ‘The End of the F***ing World’.


 An evolution from the synth-led, dream pop of their debut release, ‘Counting Down the Suns’, ‘Mrs. Tambourine Girl’ could be described as a ‘love letter to the sixties’. The optimistic throwbacks to the likes of Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and The Beatles (to name but a few) evoke the Summer of Love.


Back in ’67; free love, righteousness and good times were at the forefront of the musical world. As we approach a (potentially) post-Covid summer, will these principles be embraced once again? Pfizer may have taken the place of LSD, but Ex en Provence may have just provided the perfect anthem.


The lyrics are certainly nostalgic – they are reference-heavy, written in a stream of consciousness style that could have come straight from a lost Lennon tape. But the music, though tinged with psychedelic flurries, is more indebted to modern indie-rock sensibilities. If Annie Clarke and Brian Wilson had teamed up to write a song for Parquet Courts, this would be not far off what they would come up with.


The song clocks in at just two and a half minutes but the distorted guitar twangs and driving, fuzzy synths allow for visions of an extended outro when performed live. If there is a Woodstock for the ‘Covid generation’, this will surely be its centerpiece. The sing-along chorus of ‘You throw my records out the window when we fight/You throw my records but it’s all alright’ vents some of our isolation-induced claustrophobia, but poignantly envisages brighter days ahead.


The name of the band is a reference to Samuel’s French heritage, and they claim it ‘ignites the romantic escapism in us all’ -as this track does. After a year of being locked down, another Summer of Love is more needed than ever.


Tom Pritchard


 Photo: Official album artwork


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