Album Reviews

The Fratellis – Costello Music

(Island) UK release date: 11 September 2006

How long should a wheel be allowed to run for before it’s replaced? When it’s worn down and in danger of collapsing? When an advance in technology leads to something much better?

At face value The Fratellis are a nondescript looking Glaswegian three piece, who frankly would not be here without The Libertines. Pete Doherty has been on probation longer than the Fratellis have been together, a very short space which has seen them propelled from Arbroath, via a major label ticket to Sunset studios in Los Angeles, to prominent slots on the summer festival circuit.

The timing is acutely precise for Costello Music, what with a prestigious headlining tour and support slot with Kasabian on the horizon. And here’s the head scratcher. Just what is it about the Fratellis that is tipping them into Kooksland to be everyone’s new favourite band?

Truth be told it’s the songs dear Watson. Fun, raucous, catchy and genuine. People can spot a con a mile off which is why piffle like Orson will not cut it on these shores.

And if I may be so bold, it could be said that the numbers which populate Costello Music are a darn sight better than Carl Barat and Pete Doherty’s solo exploits – to the unquestioning loyal slave that is the devout Libertines fan, this translates to “get over the breakup, pull yourself together and please don’t try to tell me how you fail to see how overblown and average Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things tragically are.”

Now that’s not something you’ll hear the Fratellis ever say (publicly at least). They probably wouldn’t get away with it. Flathead’s hip shaking rhythm, urgent riffs and sing-along chorus bears all the hallmarks of the ‘Tines. Cuntry Boys and City Girls starts alarmingly like Time For Heroes before laying into a Ritchie Valens-style ’60s anthem. The early ballad Whistle For the Choir pretty much commandeers What Katie Did with an identical rhythm almost crying out for shoop-shoorop to accompany it.

They hold their own too though. Chelsea Dagger’s glam pomp could send an army into war. Creeping Up The Backstairs and Henrietta are next year’s festival main stage anthems in-waiting.

Vince The Loveable Stoner has a similar jauntiness to The Kinks‘ Dedicated Follower of Fashion. The rhythm of The Clash‘s Rudie Can’t Fail is borrowed for live favourite Everybody Knows You Cried Last night, quaintly referenced with the character Ruby.

The Fratellis have come good at a good time for their sound and can claim advantage on the pulling power of these songs. Staying power is less predictable, but for the band, their fans and indeed those they will pick up along the way, this ride is one to join in and enjoy before the wheels end up needing a good change.

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More on The Fratellis
The Fratellis – We Need Medicine
The Fratellis – Here We Stand
The Fratellis + The Maccabees @ Astoria, London
The Fratellis – Costello Music