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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here they are, 28 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Here We Stand (Audio CD)
The Fratellis are one of those Britpop bands exploding with energy and lovable roguishness, and that is basically what their debut album "Costello Music" was full of.

Which brings us to their sophomore offeering: "Here We Stand," an album of explosive laddish energy, late wild nights out on the town, and solid catchy riffs, just like their first one. The Glaswegians don't quite stick to a solid sound in this album, but diddle around with a few new styles and tempos -- there's shreds of alt-rock, blues-rock and hard-rock stuck in their Britpop.

They don't really add anything new to their sound -- it's all still bouncy guitar-laden Britpop -- but they diddle around with some other styles from time to time.

"Have you got a shape?" "Yes." "What shape would you be?"

With that odd little conversation, the band busts out into the rattling drums and rapidly blazing riffs of "My Brother John." It's a wild little song of "Saturday night in the year of the good thief," dumb blondes, wild night scenes, and "My friend John was a serious one/Buttoned up the back and a job half done/Lazy old boy when the good girls turn/His teeth get itchy and his rubber soles burn/When will he ever learn?"

They don't lose their momentum in "A Heady Tale," where the countryish guitars are tempered by a fierce, jangly piano and funny lyrics ("you know cold-blooded women make me sneeze"). And as the album winds on, they acquire a bit of a sunny alt-rock sound -- countryish ballads, breezy swaying rockers, fast-moving Britpop, and burning guitarpop. And they finish it off with the smooth, plaintive "Lupe Brown," and a wash of gentle piano that switches midsong into a smashing cascade of guitars.

But they do start to falter a little in the stompy, clumpy "Shameless" and the uneven, uncertain "Tell Me A Lie." Both songs seem to be a foray into harder rock'n'roll, but it feels like they overcrammed the songs with bass and electric riffs. They're far more successful with the more complex melody of "Acid Jazz Singer."

The core of the Fratellis' music has not really changed -- their songs are short, snappy and brimming with lots of pep, and lyrics about drinking, girls and the life of a band. "Here We Stand" is pretty clearly intended to be a fun, not terribly deep listen, and the Fratellis succeed magnificently in that corner -- although it lacks a cohesive sound all the way through. A little experiment here, a little influence there.

Guitars still dominate their music -- they make up most of the instrumentation, and keep everything catchy and nimble. Steely, acoustic, cycling, sharp dancy melodies and blazing electric riffs are spattered liberally all over the album, sometimes woven in with some bass. Solid drums back virtually everything, and occasionally they twine in some jangly piano and weird distortion.

And Jon Fratelli always sounds like a nice boy who's just gotten over a broken heart and a hangover -- his voice is strong but a little rough. And he sings songs that are cleverer and tighter than any previous Fratellis songs ("They got yesterday's heroes and last night clothes/You're a game old boy judging by the way you walk"). And they're full of worn-out acid jazz singers, "Mistress Mabel," and thieving gypsy women.

"Here We Are" is the sound of a band figuring out what they want to be when they grow up, and providing a little entertaining music along the way. Worth hearing, but hopefully leading on to something even better.
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