The Fratellis appear to have found their element with their first full-length studio album in three years, In Your Own Sweet Time, available Friday, March 16th, from the independent record label Cooking Vinyl.
Popularized by their catchy rock jingles, fake identities, and provocative artwork, the Scottish trio first rose to popularity amidst the garage rock revival in the mid-2000s, with their debut album, Costello Music (2006), which went on to be a chart-topping success.
They released a few more records in the years that followed, mixing in elements of piano pop and blues rock, which despite a more experimental sound, were commercially unsuccessful. So, when the band decided to make its return to the studio in 2014, they re-enlisted Tony Hoffer—the producer behind their breakthrough debut—to work with them yet again.
Although their new album, In Your Own Sweet Time, is hardly a reprisal of their “Chelsea Dagger”-like anthem rock years, having Hoffer at the helm has proven to be a major improvement.
The album opens with the lead single, “Stand Up Tragedy,” a playful and uplifting power-pop melody comprised of razor-sharp guitar riffs and falsetto vocals, including the Mick Jagger-inspired “ooh ooh’s” at the end which gives it a “Sympathy for the Devil” sort-of feel.
“That song might sum up this record in a lot of ways,” said lead songwriter Jon Fratelli. “Really the whole thing was quite playful. For instance: when I was writing that, I just came out with a falsetto voice. I’d never sung falsetto in my life. All of a sudden it comes out, and I was just ready to start singing that way. Even just using that type of voice, it can’t help but be fun. And it kind of set a tone.”
“Starcrossed Losers” sounds like it was ripped right out of a John Hughes movie. The track gives off angsty teen movie vibes as Jon Fratelli comes in with some high-pitched yodels which sound akin to the late-80s alternative rock group, James.
The Fratellis take a somewhat more ironic approach on the track “Sugartown,” which despite its bubbly, somewhat psychedelic ‘60s doo-wop sound is lyrically depressing.
“I get the strangest sense we were lovers, past tense / Like a dog in heat, I just can’t be indiscreet / And when I see you there, I whisper my prayer so sweet / I’m getting shaky on my feet, I’m incomplete.”
The album continues with “The Next Time We Wed,” a lively pop track featuring some rather Prince-like guitar licks, which will be released as a “gratis” teaser track. The Fratellis continue to draw inspiration from a variety of places, such as classic ‘70s arena rock bands (“I’ve Been Blind”), southern swamp-rock (“I Guess I Suppose”), and experimental desert rock (“Advaita Shuffle”).
“Indestructible” is one of the album’s most brilliant moments. It is a spirited performance that comes off with just the right balance, between its call-and-response hooks and its infectious pop sound.
“I loved this song lyrically from the beginning and it pretty much arrived fully formed, like quite a few of the other songs it was built around a groove,” Jon Fratelli said. “If you listen carefully to the breakdown section you might spot a splice from a song that was on Eyes Wide [Tongue Tied].”
The album closes with “I Am That,” a downtempo psychedelic track with electronic dissonance mixed in, giving it more of an industrial or progressive rock sound. According to Jon Fratelli, “I think we all felt that it was a little bit special and deserved to be taken as far we could take it.”
The Fratellis appear to be coming from a much more comfortable place than on past records. Parts of the album still lack the edginess of some of their earlier work, but they show they can be much more versatile and pragmatic than a decade ago.
RATING: 4 / 5
WATCH: THE FRATELLIS – “STARCROSSED LOSERS”
Be sure to check out In Your Own Sweet Time on all streaming and digital music services this Friday, March 16th. For tickets, tour dates, and more check out the band’s website. Also, stay tuned to Salute Magazine for more music.