Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Fratellis - Costello Music - 2007
Brash, melodic, and imbued with a more-than-healthy sense of British rock tradition, the Fratellis and their debut album, Costello Music, come across almost like a caricature of bands like the Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things, and Arctic Monkeys -- but at least it's a flattering one. The Fratellis take themselves a lot less seriously than some of the other laddish bands popular in the U.K. in the late 2000s, and emphasize hooks and fun rather than samey-sounding rock. Songs like "Baby Fratelli" and "The Gutterati" have a singalong simplicity, and it feels like the band puts as many "la la la"s and "ba da ba"s into each song as they can -- and then try to cram in a few more. Costello Music's best tracks go even farther with the band's fun-only agenda; it's easy to hear why "Flathead" -- which switches between grinding, aggressive verses and a downright giddy chorus with more of those "ba da bop a dah" hooks -- was picked to soundtrack a fittingly day-glo, kinetic iPod TV commercial. The outstanding single "Chelsea Dagger" is just as vibrant, a swaggering glam rock nugget with pints-aloft choruses. "Henrietta"'s loopy catchiness owes a debt to vaudeville or musical comedy, and not just because Jon Fratelli sings "wa wa wa waaaahhh" along with the guitar solo; "For the Girl," meanwhile, has a melody so strong, it could've been a hit anytime between the '60s and the '90s. Elsewhere on Costello Music, the Fratellis show off their knowledge of other corners of rock history: "Vince the Lovable Stoner" is appealing faux country-rock; "Doginabag" adds some blues and grit to their sound; and "Creepin' Up the Back Stairs" nods to '50s rock and skiffle. Even when the band gets a little more complex, as on the darkly twangy "Got Ma Nuts from a Hippy," they keep the focus on rapid-fire rhythms and air guitar-ready solos. Indeed, Costello Music is so high-energy, it's almost too much to take in one sitting. Then again, this music wasn't made for sitting, it was made for dancing yourself silly. They might not have the cultural or historical impact of some of their peers, but the Fratellis are a lot of fun in the moment -- whenever that moment is. -AMG
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Posted by Curty Ray