Lukewarm feelings abound for The Fratellis’ sophomore album

The Fratellis’ sophomore album “Here We Stand” is decent, but they aren’t nearly as fun and funky this time around.
            That’s not to say that The Fratellis are a cheap clone of all the other awful disco punk bands, such as Panic at the Disco. The Fratellis still have plenty of upbeat, cheery punk songs, just like their previous album, “Costello Music.”
In fact, the Fratellis’ first single, “Mistress Mabel” is an awesome mix of ska punk and funky piano chords. It’s a snazzy piece that has the energy of a ’60s rock ‘n’ roll song. There are also some neat hints at political anger in the chorus, where Jon Fratelli sings “And tell me where all the days have gone/When you robbed my cradle/Tell me Mabel.”
However, their new songs aren’t as cool as they could have been. The second song, “A Heady Tale,” sounds like an awkward mix of country and punk. The vocals sound like something from a Bob Dylan song, but with cheesy rock chords that lack all the passion of an edgy punk band.
“Acid Jazz Singer” follows suit with the same manufactured guitar chords from a ’90s pop band. Sure, there are cool Oasis-style funk riffs, but Fratelli’s cheery tenor vocals sounds way too happy for his own good. For the record, Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kopranos sounds light years better than Fratelli. Kopranos has a low tenor that can belt out passionate fire when anyone least expects it.
Still, some of The Fratellis’ songs miraculously mix in awesome frets that are reminiscent of the ’60s Beatles. I love the way The Fratellis balance old retro music with a punk edge in songs such as “Look Out Sunshine!” and “Babydoll.” I just can’t resist hearing Fratelli singing in his best Paul McCartney impersonation, “And tell my friends I’ll be around/Getting nowhere sleeping somewhere/With a girl I dreamed oh yeah.” Of course I get depressed hearing him sing about a romance that could never be, but he must be somewhat optimistic if he sounds like a Beatles singer.
Even at the end, I had to sulk in disbelief. Fratelli tries to play the piano with the guitars in the jam “Milk and Honey,” but his opening chords sound like a kid’s version of what could have been an extravagant reinterpretation of an Elton John ballad. Sure, the cool guitar effects near the end made up for it, but Fratellis’ main instrument in the song was a piano. And he cannot play piano.
The Fratellis might have sounded like a hard-hitting punk band in the beginning, but now they sound like child’s play. The Fratellis should take more hints from Franz Ferdinand, who rose to become the godfathers of disco punk rock as we know it.

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