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Frou Frou


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Ectronic pop

Status:

Sole release, Details (2002)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Frou Frou

Frou Frou's MySpace page

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for Imogen Heap

The War Against Silence's review of Frou Frou

Comparisons:

Like a cross between Mandalay and Ivy. (JoAnn.Whetsell)

Covers/own material:

Own and co-written

General comments:

Frou Frou is a collaboration between edgy singer-songwriter Imogen Heap and electronic producer Guy Sigsworth. Their work is pop, but not simplistic, and I found that the more I listened to it the more essential it became to me. They're two talented musicians and songshapers, and this shows loud and clear in Frou Frou. (Neile)

Frou Frou is very much in line with Imogen Heap's solo album—but somehow less catchy. (jjhanson@att.net)

Comments about live performance:

I went to the NYC show at the Mercury Lounge and had a good time. There were maybe 40-50 people there (maybe less, maybe more), the place looked pretty full, especially for a 7:30 show, and people were standing up dancing and the sitters were tapping their feet and bopping their heads. All good signs.
     Imogen was clearly enjoying herself, dancing around and striking little poses, and playing keyboard on several songs. They played: "Hear Me Out", "Let Go", "It's Good to Be in Love" (Imogen solo on keyboard), a harder-edged song from a single that had everyone rocking, "Breathe In", and "Must Be Dreaming".
     Everyone wanted them to play longer. There was no banter, no stories, but that's at least partly because of the short set they had. Imogen whispered "Thank you" in such a husky voice after several songs, I would love to hear her just talk. I'm continually impressed with the range of styles of her voice, from whispery to angry, and curling, and other things in between.
     Guy looked like he was having a good time too. I'm not sure what he was doing, besides playing keyboards, because I couldn't see him really, and I'm not versed in the language of sampling and other electronic tools that these kinds of artists use. I am amazed at the soundscape that can be created in a live setting, not just in a studio over a period of time.
     All in all, it was a fun, but too short, show and I hope to see them play a full set someday. (9/02, JoAnn.Whetsell)

Ah, the double-edged sword of living in NYC. All the good artists come to play, but the assembly line mentality of the clubs leaves everyone but the guy at the door feeling shortchanged.
     Frou Frou's Mercury Lounge set was only 35 minutes long, and I think they played the same songs as the previous night's in-store performance at Virgin Megastore. The difference is the Virgin store felt less rushed, and it was free. Oh, and we learned that Immi's hand held keyboard takes 6 AA size batteries, since they died prior to the second song. Luckily, they sell batteries at Virgin Megastore, haha.
     Anyway, is it just me or does Imogen win the award for most dramatically changed appearance since the last time through? She looked and dressed funky last time I saw her in NY (about three years ago), but this time around she looked exceptionally cute, if I may say so. (9/02, carnivore@bigfoot.com)

Recommended first album:

Details is their only recording as a duo

Recordings:

Details (2002)

Details

Release info:

2002—Universal Island Records—314 586 996-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Imogen Heap—vocals, guitars, pianos, drums, synthesizers, samplers & music software
Guy Sigsworth—guitars, pianos, drums, synthesizers, samplers & music software

Guest artists:

Jon Hassel—trumpet on 2 tracks
Ioana Petcu-Colan—violin on 2 tracks
Mich Gerber—bowed double bass on 2 tracks
Alasdair Molloy—handbells, waterphone, glass harmonica on 3 tracks
Makoto Sakamoto—drums on 2 tracks
Elad Elharar—bass guitar on "Must Be Dreaming"
Bollywood Strings Orchestra—Indian strings on "Psychobabble"
Chandru—string arrangement on "Psychobabble"

Produced by:

Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth

Comments:

Guy Sigsworth is an ace electronica producer, known for his work with Björk and Madonna. Imogen Heap is a singer-songwriter, possessed of a strong voice that can sound like Tori Amos one minute, and Sinéad O'Connor the next. Both are multi-instrumentalists with a penchant for hook-laden electronic pop and literate, witty lyrics. Details is slick enough in production to appeal to the more adventurous Madonna crowd, while maintaining its quirks. The whole album goes down easy, like junk food. A CGI-soundscape of glittery technology and jittery beats, Frou Frou is so damn catchy. A cat-and-mouse game is sonically played out, with synthetic sounds chasing acoustic ones, only to meld together and reform. Individual songs transform like puzzle boxes, effortless hopping genres. Each of the songs is worthy of single status; they are finely-honed and stock full of surprises. The songwriting is top notch, with lyrics that, sometimes humorously, sometimes poignantly, take a look at relationships. "Psychobabble" a dramatic song, has the best lyrics, with its extended of metaphor of a hostage situation: "Do just what I tell you/And no-one will get hurt/ Don't come in any closer." This song also features a spellbinding appearance of the Bollywood Orchestra, "Hear Me Out" has a sly reference to Regis Philbin. Heap's voice is rich and mature; it's hard to believe that she's so young. She inhabits each setting perfectly, like a good actress. She sounds amused on "Shh", resigned on "The Dumbing Down of Love". Heap's voice, like Sigsworth's sugary production, threatens to become histrionic. This is the delicious tension that fuels this CD. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

In case there's anybody else here who had avoided Frou Frou on the basis of not really liking Imogen Heap's solo album, I will report that after hearing a couple Frou Frou songs by accident, I went ahead and bought Details and am *really* pleased I did. Particularly highly recommended if you were sad when Mandalay broke up... (gmcdonald@furia.com)

It's inevitable that comparisons would be made between Frou Frou's album and Imogen Heap's solo effort (which was in my top 5 of 1998). The first three songs are right up there for me, while the rest of the album varies between alright and good. (paul2k@aol.com)

Frou Frou is much poppier and less innovative than Imogen Heap's solo work, but no less catchy. I didn't like it all that much when we first got it, but it has grown on me a lot. It's full of catchy hooks. (Neile)

The Frou Frou album is more laid back, has more of a groove, and dare I say less innovative than Imogen's solo work, but it's a pleasant listen. (carnivore@bigfoot.com)


Further info:

Guy Sigsworth has worked with many bands and artists, including Björk, Imogen Heap's solo work, Madonna, and Mandalay.

Imogen Heap has also collaborated with many other artists.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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