For better or worse, the era of T-Pain’s relevance, or the acceptance of Auto-Tune as a genuine musical practice, does not seem to be losing any steam. Thus, any signs of innovation have called for attention such as Lady Gaga’s refusal to either let us read her poker face or to don a pair of pants. Perhaps it is fitting that Chester French has served as the opening act on Lady Gaga’s first headlining tour, since the band is also on the cusp of commercial success, due in large part to its alleged freshness. The duo of Harvard University alumni make a case for themselves in their debut set “Love the Future,” released under Pharell’s Star Trak/Interscope Records.
Although their label insinuates a hip-hop focus, if anything is gleaned from a quick listen it is that Chester French’s genre is difficult to define. It is definitely some degree of pop, as evidenced by radio-friendly tracks like singles “She Loves Everybody,” “Jimmy Choos” and “C’mon.” The distinctive sound of vocalist D.A. Wallach harkens back to the Beach Boys, and Maxwell Drummey shows musical prowess on instruments ranging from pop music staples such as guitar, percussion and keyboard to more unique sounds like the marimba and theremin. The interchanges between spacey tracks like “Country Interlude” may be a little too long, but the heavy bass and beats elsewhere create a trademark of variety in the music. However, the album can be unapologetically cheesy, such as when Wallach and Drummey combine a jazzy piano backing with the lyrics “You’re so fresh / You’re fresh to death.” High points in both vocals and production come during “Bebee Buell,” which features a solid hook and an amusing chorus of high-pitched ohs. Although the album does not reveal any revolution in music or an overwhelming sense of innovation, Chester French has put itself into a position from which it can evolve into a household name in the industry.