The original indie-rockers The Fratellis release their 4th studio album on 21st August. Combining their usual measures of rockabilly and americana with Jon’s razor edged vocals makes for an enjoyable listen, but it just lacks a certain something.
On first listen, it’s hard to cherry pick anything special from the 11 tracks on Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied and there’s a combination of things that let the Glaswegian trio’s latest album down. While their guitar riffs, oom-pah rhythm and root-5 bass has the normal foot-tapping effect and in spite of some potentially excellent layered instrumentals, the production falls flat, the songs are lacking punch and in truth, gets off to a little bit of a boring start. Jon’s voice also seems to have lost some of its power and rawness which leaves him overpowered by the remaining instruments in the more powerful sections.
After a while, I found myself bopping along to Thief which had a familiar feel, it took me a little while before I realised why it was so familiar. The riff and vocals appear to have been lovingly lifted from Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters Theme. A great track with an ironic name? Quite possibly…
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, in fact after a few more spins, we do find a couple of tracks that grow on you, such as the honky-tonk piano fuelled rock of Baby Don’t you Lie to Me and bluegrass fuelled brass fusion of Dogtown which embody The Fratellis‘ usual magic and flair. Some of the tracks also contain something new, like the delicate country riffs in Imposters (Little by Little) and the samples, synth & strings in Rosanna. Slow follows in the same vane, a pretty, piano driven lost love ballad, the likes of which we’ve not really heard from the boys before.
Unfortunately, there’s little comparison to the early rugged rock belters like Chelsea Dagger and while bands always need to evolve to stay fresh, The Fratellis have perhaps not taken the route for which they were destined this time. While Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied is probably a good one for their die-hard fans, personally, I can take it or leave it and I can’t see it making a big splash among the growing list of excellent albums from Nineties and Noughties artists so far this year. As ever though, if I am wrong I am prepared to stand corrected!