With so much competition and the pressure on to deliver something that’s new, connections are an important part in becoming part of the indie establishment. Sunderland’s Frankie & The Hearstrings have had their first album produced by Edwyn Collins; an artist who is more revered now than he has ever been. So armed with a 1950’s image and a 1980’s-indebted sound, the quintet serve up ten likeable, uncomplicated songs.
‘Photograph’ is a chirpy opener which rivals The Housemartins’ ‘Happy Hour’ in terms of boyish charm. On a more esoteric level, ‘Ungrateful’ may contain simplistic lyrics but Frankie Francis’ passionate delivery and Michael McKnight’s jangly accompaniment serve as a reminder of all that is good about 1980’s guitar pop. Likewise, ‘Fragile’ arrives after two spirited but disposable album tracks to slow the pace down and deliver a yearning quality largely absent on the rest of the album. Indeed for all the spiky guitar melodies and Frankie’s pleading vocals, about half of the songs tend to pass by without leaving much of an impression. A notable exception, however, is the rattling intensity of ‘Don’t Look Surprised’ which rescues some belated urgency.
Collins even contributes backing vocals to three tracks but it’s probably a testament to FATH’s abilities that you don’t really notice them. Unlike recent albums by The Drums and Wild Beasts, however, ‘Hunger’ lacks any real unique elements and you’re left wondering whether the album is a pastiche, albeit a very well produced one.
The Monochrome Set, Orange Juice, The Housemartins, Dexys Midnight Runners