Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, June 26, 2008
      ( 6/26/2008 05:43:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"IF I'M FEELING OLD AND DESPERATE, I'LL BE BACK SOME DAY." With a follow-up to their cheekily titled debut full-player, Costello Music, Glascow's Fratellis once more testify to the unalloyed pleasures of poprockin' guitar and hooky boyish choruses. Their sophomore full-player, Here We Stand (Universal), proves almost as assertively addictive as the release which gave us the iPod-themey "Flathead." If nothing on the eleven-track Stand is as instantaneously attention-grabbing as their Libertines-y tribute to a dangerous club girl, there's still enough good-timey bad time music to fuel most Britpop fans. Between this, the hyper-buzzed Coldplay release and the re-emergence of Supergrass, it's a promising summer for anglophile pop-rock junkies.

Though the lads have never been shy about acknowledging their influences, on Stand there's more of an overtly retro vibe. "Straggler's Moon" quotes Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It" to spookily moody effect, while first single "Mistress Mabel" recalls both "My Sharona" and Dave Edmunds' speed-freak fretwork on Love Sculpture's "Saber Dance." Two tracks venture into Kinks-y folk-rock territory, with "Acid Jazz Singer" even pulling in a little bit of the "Lola" ambiguity ("Well, I'm a lucky man, and maybe so is she.") for good measure, and the hard-rockin' album opener "My Friend John" contains more than a few trace elements of the Undertones. In one of the band's trademark put-downs of an unworthy lady ("Lupe Brown"), the band even adds old-fashioned Led Zep Eastern guitarwork to the mix.

It's all energetically performed - though perhaps the band's lyrical obsession with age and age differences seems a bit premature ("Is it me or are they younger every night?" lead singer Jon Fratelli asks in "Shameless"). You can just picture these crisp pop tunes getting blasted on a noisy pub jukebox, the patrons periodically putting down their mugs long enough to incoherently bellow the choruses, though I can testify that it also sounds pretty damn great played while speeding down an American highway. New music this familiarly playful is growing increasingly rare, but, thankfully, the three lads who took their Ramones-y surname from the thuggish family of villains in The Goonies still know the power of singalong hooks, an energetic strum and a smartly placed guitar line. There they stand - and more power to 'em.
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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