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Music Review

The Fratellis: 'Here We Stand'

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The Fratellis: 'Here We Stand'
Released on Monday, Jun 9 2008

The Fratellis certainly aren't to everyone's tastes. The Glaswegians' debut album, Costello Music, and specifically their hit 'Chelsea Dagger', was installed with extra-strength superglue in the nation's pub jukeboxes all through 2006. However, for every fan of the band's boozy singalongs, there were many others who found them distasteful and crass. The nicer reviews described them as "artless but amiable", while sterner critics lamented their "tediously misogynistic" lyrics. John, Barry and Mince, meanwhile, kept on smiling while the album sales racked up.

According to the band, album number two is a more "factual" record. Lead single 'Mistress Mabel' fails to support this assertion, featuring as it does lyrics about a "hem line rat bag" that are about as comprehensible as an Ikea instruction manual printed in Japanese. Fortunately, the track is saved by what sounds like a dozen pianos being bashed with hammers and some of the finest rattling riffs we're likely to hear in 2008. This theme of rubbish words/cracking tunes runs through the core of Here We Stand.

Opener 'My Friend John' gallops out of the blocks like a Grand National winner, but lyrically it's about as exciting as an afternoon watching Countdown with your granny. Lawler's story-telling promises much and often throws out intriguing titbits, but all too often he drifts aimlessly. 'Acid Jazz Singer's tale of an encounter with a mystery female while laid "in the gutter" has promise, but its outcome is the distinctly underwhelming: "I haven't seen her lately man, I have to ring her." The woozy guitar anthem 'Jesus Stole My Baby' features a relatively amusing anecdote about a girl who becomes a "bore" after discovering God, but these occasional moments of interest are few and far between.

Nevertheless, fans of Costello Music are unlikely to be disappointed by this album. 'Look Out Sunshine!' is a four-minute arm-swaying belter that The Kooks would have loved for their recent album, while 'Tell Me Lies' mixes grubby, Jack White-style blues with the band's usual melodic glam. The album's highlight is probably 'Shameless', a track so bombastic and in-your-face that it will require a gaggle of dancing girls performing the Can-Can to do it justice when played live. Not far behind is 'A Heady Tale', the sort of thing the cast of Corrie might belt out round a grand piano on a New Year's Eve special.

Here We Stand certainly isn't the album to silence The Fratellis' critics, but it's genuinely hard to fault their lack of ambition when they're clearly having such a good time. While their musical palette of Slade, T-Rex and The Faces is hardly inspiring, few bands are this proficient at turning those influences into raucous, radio-friendly hits. They probably won't get away with it a third time, but The Fratellis' second outing is a harmless enough romp that will have plenty of music fans high-kicking along come the end of the year.


> Click here for our recent interview with The Fratellis

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