Monday, 28 February 2011

REVIEW: Frankie And The Heartstrings - 'Hunger'

So here's a hotly tipped new band that a lot of people seem to be talking about, and here is their debut album 'Hunger'. This reached number 32 in the UK album chart, possibly something to do with the CD being on sale for £4.99, something most other new albums don't benefit from. The album starts nicely enough with 'Photograph', its bright jangly riff and slightly geeky lyrics setting a template for most other FATH's tracks. 'Ungrateful' is possibly the best track on the album, where the repetition doesn't get too annoying and where the rather pleasant tune settles on a backdrop similar to 'Station to Station'-era Bowie and also a bit like Orange Juice, which is understandable considering the album is produced by indie legend Edwyn Collins, who was of course the lead singer of the aforementioned band.

The recent single and title track 'Hunger' with it's lively "woah woah" backing vocals is also great, and becomes utterly infectious after hearing it just a few times. 'Possibilities' is even more upbeat and like a lot of the album has influences from the more squeaky clean British rock n stars from the late 50s, as well as that little bit of geekyness that i mentioned before. One band that springs to mind is Hefner, the vocals are definitely not far removed from that of Darren Hayman and some of that band's quirky, humble and intentionally charming indie traits are also similar to the material Frankie And The Heartstrings present here, except Hefner always came across as more intelligent. But over the course of a whole album, the vocals start to become a bit of a nuisance and the lyrics increasingly uninspired as the constant niceness begins to grate.

'Fragile' begins with a pleasant Mary Chain-esque guitar intro but as soon as the vocals arrive, it is spoiled by boring, directionless lyrics. 'Tender' is more and more annoying with every listen, and gives the impression that they couldn't be bothered with even attempting to write passable lyrics... "i'll be yours and you'll be mine, i'll feed you milk, i'll give you wine"? Bollocks. 'That Postcard' has a catchy little riff, but again is a victim of weak songwriting. 'It's Obvious' is a bit of an improvement where they dip into a bit of smart and slightly jagged funk, carrying it off for a while before you realise the track really isn't going anywhere, ending in a hurried awkward mess. 'Want You Back' is more impressive, with some lovely brass lighting up a heartfelt, jaunty piece of soul that at 3 minutes doesn't overstay its welcome. Final track 'Don't Look Surprised' sounds like a rougher-round-the-edges relative of 'Mr Brightside' by The Killers and closes the album quite nicely, but again the vocals do whinge on a bit and the songwriting is nothing spectacular.

So definitely not deserving of some of the hype, but a likeable enough album of fun, inoffensive and slighly nerdy indie pop. 'Photograph', 'Ungrateful, 'Hunger' and 'Want You Back' are definitely the stand out moments on an album filled with way too many moments that come across as a bit half arsed and rather lightweight. 5.9/10

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