The Fratellis, ‘Here We Stand’

By • Jul 7th, 2008 • Category: Album Reviews

There was a rag-tag danger on The Fratellis’ debut, Costello Music, that sounded as if the English group was as likely to raise a pint and lead a cheerful sing-a-long as it was to smash your head in with their guitars. They were the guys whom everyone wanted at the party but preferred to watch from a safe distance. There was an unpredictability of a band that drove too fast, laughed too loud, and stumbled onto a series of unforgettable choruses because remembering rhyming phrases was just easier and more fun.

On the band’s sophomore LP, some of that same edginess remains, but not to the fuck-all degree as before. If The Fratellis used to be the life of the celebration, Here We Stand plays like the band still wants to have a great time but doesn’t feel the urgency to be the center of attention.

The polish doesn’t entirely wipe away the trio’s confidence. Album opener “My Friend John” tells of “a big dumb blonde” in the same matter-of-fact way that “Acid Jazz Singer” talks about being “a lucky man, and maybe so is she”. The distorted “Shameless” uses the same fuzzy hooks that made that first record such a surprisingly fun listen. “Milk and Money” misleadingly sounds like a piano ballad for almost two-and-a-half minutes before unleashing a driving rhythm to close out the album. It’s just that none of the glam-rock anthems such as “Mistress Mabel”, “Tell Me A Lie”, and “Jesus Stole My Baby” pack the same punch as anything on Costello Music.

For all the rough moments tucked within Here We Stand, the bulk of the album is a bit reserved. It sounds as if the group decided to become professional musicians instead of three guys who got paid to make music. Although it doesn’t entirely squash the youthful spirit that reverberated through every note, the members now seem to be pacing themselves and rationing it out.

And moderation never has been The Fratellis’ strong point.

Soundcheck Magazine, July 2008

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