Heartbreakers, Southampton

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Organized By:

Psych Ltd

About the tour

‘New World Artifacts’ is the debut album from Rouen, France-based group Unschooling, arriving following their 2021 ‘Random Acts of Total Control’ EP and 2019’s ‘Defensive Designs’ tape. Out October 6th via Bad Vibrations, it’s a collection of lo-fi post-punk clocking in at 30 minutes, underscored with subtle pop melodies and structures but never far away from bouts of anarchic no-wave dissonance. Here, Unschooling claim loud and clear their desire to return to a sound which is less calibrated, less obvious. As they themselves write, “New World Artifacts is an ode to the unexpected, a tribute to many art rock bands who are always where you least expect them. It is both noisy and sensitive. Hot and cold at once.”
‘New World Artifacts’ was recorded mostly live in just a few sessions at a farmer friend’s DIY studio located in the Normandy countryside in late Summer 2022. In a busy year of heavy European touring and festival appearances, Vincent Fevrier (guitar/vocals) recalls that the recording process was almost as chaotic as the music itself: “Sometimes band members had to get back to the studio in the middle of the night after a gig hoping to be able to record a new song as we had very little time together outside of being on the road and the recording gear was often dysfunctional. In the end we took parts of all the different takes and pieced them together.”
The Unschooling Quintet, as referred to on the album’s collage artwork, is made up of Fevrier, Damien Tebbal (Bass), Paul Morvant (Guitar), Marc Lebreuilly (Guitar/Synth) and Thomas Fromager (Drums). Although their music might revel in discord, it is a calculated one. The musicianship is complex and meticulous, hardened by their time spent together playing on the road. For ‘New World Artifacts’, additional musicians were also brought in to expand the sound in new ways, including saxophonists Levi Gillis (The Dip, Beat Connection) and Emeline Morisset (Les Agamemnonz), and Kyleen King (Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, My Morning Jacket) on strings.
Lead single ‘Brave New Storm’ announces the album with a quintessential ‘stop and smell the flowers’ track that finds Unschooling at their most melodic, with a nostalgic vibe that taps into Fevrier’s twee pop influences. On the single, he writes that “Brand New Storm is an invitation to let go despite the ups and downs of a romantic relationship, the fear of commitment. A call to step into the unknown”. Elsewhere, the ‘Excommunicated’ single perhaps perfectly encapsulates the relationship between harmony and disharmony on this record. The near seven-minute track may start in a soft, dreamy fashion, but soon enfolds into three entirely different parts: “This quasi-religious piece is interspersed with a very raw and bruitist part and ends with a drone that seems to plunge us directly into darkness, until a clearing spreads and snaps us out of torpor.”
Similarly experimental and revealing of the more subtle artistic directions explored on ‘New World Artifacts’ is ‘Ribbon Road’. Described as “A labyrinthine tribute to the famous Mario Kart course of the same name”, it’s an off-kilter, almost-jazzy track led by two basses, two drums and the band’s usual triple-guitars in unison with saxophones recorded in collaboration with Levi Gillis.
Tracks like ‘Public Transport’, ‘Erase U’ and ‘Shopping On The Left Bank’ are classic Unschooling, but taken to new heights. Energetic and jittery post-punk guitars are fused with Fevrier’s dissatisfied vocals and tense, driving rhythm sections – all wrapped up in an unpredictable no-wave spontaneity. The latter was originally released as a standalone single ahead of their 2022 Summer tour but is re-recorded here: “Shopping On The Left Bank mainly talks about the gentrification of Rouen’s left bank – something that’s happening in every other major city – but I tried to make it almost laughable. I find the result both danceable but very chaotic, even dark.”
And therein lies Unschooling’s charm, for all that the record might be chaotic and experimentally-grounded, it’s above all else a fun and entertaining listen that never takes itself too seriously. It’s for this reason that the band have already been heralded as one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the new school of post-punk revivalists, playing to busy crowds and festival fields across the continent. ‘New World Artifacts’ might just mark them out as the best in class.