The Fratellis found fame in the mid noughties when their fist pumping hit “Chelsea Dagger” became an immediate chart success and solidified them in the pop culture record books for evermore. Since then The Fratellis have released two albums, both of which failed to recapture the energy which gave them their raucous success. “Eyes Wide Tongue Tied” is the fourth offering from the Glaswegian power pop trio, It certainly has its moments but is it enough to reinstate the former kings of indie radio rock?
The album kicks off with the cinematic “Me and The Devil”, A thumping opener with a lot of bravado and rock and roll swagger. Jon Fratelli declares “Im gonna sell this soul of mine” to the tune of a honky-tonk piano and crashing gongs. Its a catchy track that does a very good job of blending the macabre and the theatrical with the Fratellis infectious hooks. Sadly, from here on in the rest of the album fails to follow suit and falls into mediocrity.
The next track “Imposters (Little By Little) is where the problems begin, an Americana inspired track that wears its influences on its sleeve. The problem here is that the songs fails to sound like a faithful reproduction of a time gone by, and at the same time fails to feel like a fresh take on a tired genre. The lack luster attempts at other genres continues in “Baby Dont You Lie To Me!”, a track that sounds like a bad cover of The Hives “Hate To Say I Told You So”. All the energy and snarl in the guitars and bass just doesnt sound believable. Jon Fratelli’s voice growls but it doesnt seem genuine, it sounds like he is taking on the persona of a rock singer.
Even at the point in the album it is clear The Fratellis have learnt how to write versions of songs, the country ballad, the snarly punk pop tune, but none of them sound like the genuine article.
By the time you get halfway through the album it becomes clear that Jon Fratellis lyrical ramblings
are completely unmemorable. Songs like “Getting Surreal”, “Dogtown” and “Too Much Wine” seem to just spew out lyrics without any real craft or care, Much in the same way that three out of the first four songs on this album all have choruses which consist of the same phrase being repeated over and over until it becomes a bit nauseating. You could chalk this type of lyrical writing up to being stylistic but it just feels like lazy writing.
I think the greatest problem with this album is that the production sucks out anything interesting dynamically or tonally and leaves everything feeling a bit white washed. When the brass band enters in “Dogtown” it should be a huge moment in the song or at least feel like a departure from the rest of the song but it just fails to add anything much. None of the brass instruments sound particularly real, It could of even sounded comical but it just sounds bland.
The production removes all the peaks and valleys out of the album. songs pass by and seem to lack any importance, different buzzy and fuzzy sounds enter and fade but they all sound so similar there isn’t much to catch the listeners attention. Until the opening of the final track “Moonshine” it all just feels like a bit of a mess. But even this track suffers from ebing over produced, there isn’t a moment in the song where there isn’t a synth being needlessly added or a part that isn’t drowned in reverb.
Although I have been incredibly critical of this album it is still a perfectly acceptable pop rock record with a lot of catchy moments. I just do not feel it is good enough for a band who has garnered so much success to not be held to a very high standard. The album starts off so well and hints at a band who have managed to mature whilst adding some more experimental song writing and instrumentation to their sound, but it soon falls by the wayside and feels lack luster for the most of the album. “Eyes Wide Tongue Tied” is a perfectly pleasant album, but feels uninspired and lacking in character.
‘Eyes Wide Tongue Tide’ is out now
Words from William Calvert
The Fratellis play the Cambridge Junction on November 23rd – tickets available here