France’s Fall Flavored return with their third release after some sweeping lineup changes in 2017. The aptly named 180 showcases a more refined approach to their punk-infused, alt-rock stylings. This album introduces the powerful vocal presence of newly acquired front-woman Yasmine Senoussi while marking a natural progression in the band’s sound.
With influences ranging from Rise Against to the heavier side of female-fronted stalwarts like Paramore, Fall Flavored has crafted a modern-sounding record that pairs punk idealism, mainstream metallic flair, and just enough je ne sais quoi to keep things interesting. While the band is obviously capable of strong writing and performance-value, it is Yasmine’s vocals that differentiate this group from the legions of other pseudo-punk bands in the scene today.
Equal parts Brodie Dalle-esque growl and Skye Sweetnam-like melodic prowess, Yasmine manages to soar over chord changes, creating her own aesthetic. On songs like “Runaway,” she commands the listener’s attention, pummelling through rock ‘n roll progressions with intensity and poise. At other times, as on “Stuck In Life” and “Can’t Be Beaten,” she presents a subdued, lower-range vocal tone before exploding into highly singable choruses. Her versatility reminds me of Chris Wollard’s distinctive vocal approach with Hot Water Music and later, The Draft.
Fall Flavored is at their best when they’re pushing tempos and crafting neatly-structured punk tunes – the band sounds smooth and together on bangers like “Mountain of Rage.” At other times, though, they only manage to half-sell sections, like the dance-beat verses on “Sleep,” which feel a little forced. Guitarist Benji Delecourt contributes several memorable leads and an awesome, delay-drenched solo on “Character in a Roleplay.”
Overall, the album’s production level is rather high, instrumental performances are strong, and the sonic quality of 180 is very solid. The only detriment is the occasionally heavy-handed vocal tuning, which is annoyingly audible on certain passages and detracts from the authenticity of the release. Beyond that, Fall Flavored has done an admirable job of representing their elevated brand of melodic alt-rock, and 180 should be seen as a worthy effort from a band that is just beginning to turn a new leaf.
Written by Mickey Ellsworth
*edited by Mike Milito