It’s become gauchely common for reviews of Chester French’s Love the Future to compare the duo of Max Drummey and D. A. Wallach to fellow Ivy Leaguers Vampire Weekend. While both groups’ unassuming Calvin Klein model looks are sure to set indie-girl hearts aflutter, and the fact that Chester French also happened to form at a school that is pretty hard to get into (Harvard), there’s not much to link the two groups. Certainly Chester French owe their career to Vampire Weekend, since if it weren’t for that foursome “A-Punk”-ing their way onto the cover of Spin, we’d still exclusively rely on the Ivy Leagues to pump out investment bankers who crashed the economy and as the setting for teen comedies starring Tom Green. But their sound? Chester French owe that to N.E.R.D.
Chester French sparked a bidding war two years ago when Kanye West tried to snatch the group out from under Pharrell Williams, who eventually signed the group to his Star Trak imprint. Williams spends his most of his times these days living out his own rock-star fantasies as leader of N.E.R.D., his mostly atrociously bad “rock” group that proves you can make a major label album that is packed with too many ideas and genres, nearly all of them half-baked and hard to sit through, and still keep your job. Thus describes Love the Future.
Chester French never met a musical style they couldn’t bang a few minutes out of. They try spaghetti western with mumbled Portuguese on “Introduction.” Then they trot out “C’Mon (On My Own),” a song that is “rock” in the same way Lil Wayne’s “Prom Queen” is, which is to say its got loud guitars and a lot of off-key shouting. They try sunny Cali-pop on “The Jimmy Choos,” sweeping regal marches on “Fingers,” and Johnny Cash-lite death country on “Beneath the Veil.”
While that kind of experimentation certainly sets Chester French apart from the standard Top 40-oriented pop bands they share a stable with on Interscope, none of the band’s stylistic flourishes are pulled off well enough to convince you they could do one style effectively, nonetheless the 10 they try out here. Just because you can hire string players who can sound like they’re performing in a fancy dining room on one track, and then sound like they’re in a smoky barbecue joint the next doesn’t mean you should. Apart from the synth-clap breakdowns on main single “She Loves Everybody,” there are very few musical fireworks on Love the Future, and those are often over-shadowed by Wallach’s shouting and dumb lyrics.
Despite Chester French’s Harvard legacy, the band’s lyrics border on brazenly dumb and crassly misogynistic. They search for a girl who doesn’t like to shop at Dior on “Bebe Buell,” a song about looking for a groupie who will screw them (sample lyric: “I’m in town/ and you’re down/let’s go”) but won’t expect anything (including respect, apparently) in return. Then they complain about a girl being too clean on “She Loves Everybody,” bemoaning her as being “a girl who misses her dad,” and how “she craves affection.” They also spend a lot of lyrical time worrying about hoes, and women who like to buy expensive shoes (“Jimmy Choos”), because, apparently, they are less desirable.
You don’t have to go to Harvard to make an album this dumb; a high school degree would probably do.