My relationship with the second Fred’s House album began awkwardly. It’s not often that I receive CDs, indeed my laptop can’t even play them, so I got my boyfriend to rip and transfer the files. Thanks to copyright changes in 2014 this was completely legal, and I didn’t have to buy a CD drive extension, ’cause that’s what Apple are making us do now if we want to dabble in such vintage luxuries.
Yes, CDs are vintage, we’re going to have to accept that and it makes me feel old. I’m 27 by the way. Anyhow, there is a point to all this, Griff Jameson (vocals/ guitar) assured me that having the physical thing would help me to get into the right vibe. And to be fair, he was right. The artwork on the CD case is a beautiful collection of hand drawn hippy-style portraits of each band member that perfectly captures their throwback country/ folk sound.
Alright, ok, the artwork is nice, but what do you actually think of the music you ask? Well, it’s pretty mellow compared to their debut Bonnie & Clyde and I’ll be honest I was waiting around for a true barnstorming belter like Marathon Man on first listen. But ultimately this didn’t matter. Their harmonies are still class and their clean production and musicianship is on point throughout.
The whole album has the laid back vibe of a band that knows where they’re at sonically. Their first album had the raw energy of a group still exploring what they wanted to be, but this second offering showcases Fred’s House completely at ease with who they are. Track four, Earthquake, an anthemic ballad and possibly the stand out song on Faultlines is a perfect example of this. Vikki Gavin’s pure country vocal drives the track, supported by a bed of slick piano, plucky guitars and souring strings – it just feels effortless. The proceeding track She Says drives on with a head nodding cyclical waltz that oozes pop harmonies and cements the band’s clean cut pop professionalism even further.
The new album is certainly more keyboard focused than their debut. Founding member and lead guitarist Lachlan Golder left the band and was replaced with keyboardist Alister Bunclark whilst it was in the making, which explains the shift. The keys provide the hooks on tracks like Goodbye Sweet City and Nevermind, bringing with them a bit of 90s pop gloss, which probably shouldn’t work, but it really does. The chemistry between Jameson and Jones also remains intact. Their country-esq boy/ girl harmonies continue to feel serene, never competing, just filling the gaps, and it’s incredibly intimate to listen to.
Fred’s House have built up a pretty solid following by simply being brilliant live, and I have no doubt these new laid back tunes will bring a new dynamic to their live shows. I’m certainly looking forward to cracking open a beer and giving this a few more spins on my various pieces of digital tech. Which I know will make Jameson cringe, being a bit of a vinyl geek himself, sorry mate.
Faultlines will be released by Cracking Tunes on May 26.
Words from Zak Thomas