Wasn’t Frankmusik, aka Vincent Frank, on the Sound of 2008 list? It certainly feels as if he’s been around for ages, constantly about to release this, his debut album. With Stuart Price helping out on the production controls, Complete Me is about as ‘of it’s time’ as you can get, Frank seemingly created in some kind of pop laboratory; wacky haircut? Check. Mildly irritating falsetto? Check. ’80s influence? Oh yes. The odd flash of pop genius? Thankfully, it’s here in abundance.
If Dan Black‘s recently released ((un)) album was electropop trying to hard to be hip, then the music Frankmusik makes is pure, unadulterated, sugar-coated pop with a capital ‘P’. In fact, at times, it can all be a bit too much, as saccharine melodies and cheery sentiments overload the songs themselves. Wonder Woman, for example, has a nice sentiment – essentially, even Wonder Woman had to take a break from being amazing – but it’s almost too catchy, too needy.
More often than not though, Frank and Stuart Price hit the mark, not least on the run of songs that open the album. In Step is an odd concoction of stuttering beats, vocal samples and a deliciously staccato chorus, whilst recent single Better Off As Two is undeniably triumphant. Better still is the cheeky Gotta Boyfriend, which sums up the conundrum of multiple partners in a succinct lyric and with shimmering keyboards.
Elsewhere 3 Little Words and new single Confusion Girl are stellar, radio-friendly singalongs; whilst the hypnotic Done, Done shows Frank can do mean and moody if the song warrants it. In fact, much of Complete Me was written following a nasty break-up, so even the most hi-energy tracks are laced with sadness. Better Off As Two, for example, hinges on the brilliant lyric, “we were always trying to be stronger at our weakest points”. It’s a sentiment Neil Tennant would be proud of.
Two songs are based around recurring samples. The first, When You’re Around, uses the riff from The Stranglers‘ Golden Brown, whilst Time Will Tell interpolates MARRS‘ Pump Up The Volume. It’s the latter that works best, creating a genuinely fresh-sounding three minutes that builds and falls away with dramatic effect. It also harnesses another melancholic lyric about desperately trying to hold onto a relationship even though it’s over.
It’s this sense of genuine emotion that elevates Complete Me above most other electronic pop albums. Unlike Dan Black, or La Roux even, Frankmusik is able to translate genuine human emotion through his songs, creating a warmth where some electronic music can leave you cold. Strangely, he’s not yet mastered the art of putting this skill to good use on the slower numbers. Songs such as Your Boy and Run Away From Trouble are pleasant enough but Frank’s voice grates, whilst the title track ventures too far into power ballad territory.
Complete Me is a clever, well crafted and painstakingly produced pop concoction that was well worth the numerous delays. Vincent Frank may look like a bit of an idiot – that hair, those achingly hip clothes, the startled rabbit-in-the-headlights pose – but he sure knows how to write a pop song. Rumours that he’s writing for Holly Valance, of all people, will hopefully stay unfounded; the guy’s got enough on his plate with his own career, thank you very much.