Wednesday, July 2
Fratellis Forget the Fun
Artist: The Fratellis
Album: Here We Stand
Comments: In my life I have encountered a few things that bore me. They include:
2. Being stuck in traffic on the PA Turnpike
3. People who won’t dance
4. Here We Stand by the Fratellis
I guess the reason I am disillusioned by this release is all the expectations I had for this second album from these swashbuckling, British bar-boys and their innately fun, albeit incoherent nonsense. After Costello Music stormed the shores of the U.S. it became the go-to drinking, dancing, sing along (if you could figure out the words) album of the past two years. I expected no less this time around, but it seems the Fratellis have succumbed to the infamous sophomore slump that music coinsurers lament about with teary eyes during late nights at the bar.
The opening track, “My Friend John,” starts with someone asking the listener, “If you were a shape, what shape would you be?” Seems like a perfectly ridiculous way to start off the album. The song isn’t half bad, either. One can believe the album will only go up from here.
The Fratellis have all the right material set out in Here We Stand. “A Heady Tale,” offers a chuckle with the lines, “won’t you please forgive me/ But you know cold-blooded women make me sneeze.” The drunken lady woes are all there. The chorusing “la’s” that make the band so much fun to sing to are prevalent throughout most of the album.
But from here the album begins to flat-line. Mellow songs like “Look Out, Sunshine!” and “Jesus Stole My Baby,” tend to drag before their finish. There are no breakouts, no crazy shouting or wailing harmonicas that make you want to jump up onto the table, slug a pint and do the jitterbug. At best, you might you will nod your head along with the songs. Maybe.
The band has grown up. The harmonics are spot on, the music is all structurally sound. You can actually tell when a song ends. But the youthful swagger associated with the Fratellis has faded. The rampant energy has been traded in for a more professional feel, and though the album is well put together, it’s just not all that fun to listen to.
This doesn’t mean Here We Stand is a total loss. The frantic piano and Costello-y pace of “Mistress Mabel,” makes the tune totally capable of being the background music for a pub brawl. “Shameless” tells the story of a lady trading in for a younger model, one of everyone’s secret fears as the years creep up. “Lupe Brown,” is my favorite of the more mellow tunes, offering the most variety in tempo throughout. Though it would still benefit from being about 30 seconds shorter.
The album’s closer, “Milk and Money,” is half slow dirge about the monotony of radio music (which would make more sense if that wasn’t, essentially, what this album felt like), and half peppy piano that makes you wonder where they’ve been hiding that during the rest of the CD.
If you liked the musical sedation that Interpol created with Antics, you will appreciate Here We Stand. But if you’re looking for a repeat of the brash young Brits who churned out Costello Music, you are, sadly, out of luck.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Key Tracks: Mistress Mable, A Heady Tale
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal