The Fratellis | Costello Music (Universal Island)

costelloThe Fratellis embrace what most young bands try so hard to ignore: their hooky instincts.

 

 

 

 

You may have heard them in one of Apple's most recent iPod commercials, the dance-worthy "Flathead" cutting its swanky hooks over silhouettes and neon. If you live in the United Kingdom, you've surely heard their buzz, whether it's from John Lawler's early-Blur meets ska guitar, or their two-year climb from the bars of Glasgow to the number-two slot on U.K. album charts. What is apparent is that you will be hearing the Fratellis sooner or later, as they are this year's Arctic Monkeys, minus the wit but plus some balls (which they may or may not have gotten from a hippie).

The trio of Lawler, bassist Barry Wallace, and Gordon McRory (otherwise known as Jon, Barry, and Mince Fratelli), were the 2007 winners of the Radio One-voted Best British Breakthrough Act, and have recently been featured as headliners on NME's Rock 'n' Roll Riot Tour. With the 2007 release of full-length debut, Costello Music, in the United States, these bummy Scots will soon be pushing their way into the hearts of rambunctious Americans looking for a good time and cooler pop vocals than what we have to offer.

With a pleasingly reckless disregard for propriety, innovation, or introspection, the Fratellis blow through simple, hedonistic rock with youthful indiscretion, jamming well-rounded licks, shouts, and melodies into square brains. They'll make you nod your head with slices of borrowed Americana (see the old-style R&B riffs of "Whistle for the Choir" and "Vince the Loveable Stoner"), shake your hips with sexual posturing (see the purposefully unsympathetic, virginity-losing anthem, "Got Ma Nuts From a Hippy"), and pump your fists with the "you're okay, I'm okay, let's sing together" brotherhood of "Chelsea Dagger" (and you thought "the Fratellis" had no rhetorical significance). Where Costello Music succeeds the most, though, is when the boys just act like themselves. "For the Girl" is familiar in its motif of misguided young love, as Lawler sings, "She was into the Stones when/ I was into the Roses," yet the sincerity gives the catchy melody all it needs to succeed as what it and the rest of the album intends to be: fun and unapologetic.

The Fratellis embrace what most young bands try so hard to ignore: their hooky instincts. You won't find an original note on Costello Music, but the band never sounds like it's trying to hide it. From the "we've arrived" introduction of "Henrietta" to the horn-y fury of "Cuntry Boys and City Girls," the band members take what they've obviously learned from the Kinks, the Clash, and the Strokes and applied it to their lustful lives. What's more is that it makes you want to dance. Changing rhythms, working off the downbeat, and flipping directions, the Fratellis tease you but never leave the resolution out to dry.

It's going to be impossible not to compare this band to their contemporaries, as they are very much a part of the newest trends in British rock. The storytelling, the catchy desires, the loud and dirty legitimizing, and the unpretentious accents are all there. What's important to remember in enjoying Costello Music, however, is that these debates end up polarizing a group of bands that can all be enjoyed by the same fans. So, I say go ahead, listen to this album before or after Beneath the Boardwalk, put it on a playlist with Kaiser Chiefs, and keep the feeling going. It's okay to be the all-time quarterback. B+ | Dave Jasmon

RIYL: The vocal timing of Franz Ferdinand supported by Arctic Monkeys' instrumentation, with occasional ska and British country

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