With a name inspired by the villainous family in The Goonies, The Fratellis have a groove just as far-out as the 1980s cult classic. The Glasgow indie rock trio remains riffy garage rock at heart, but bears a folksy soft spot that gives its material a rustic tinge. Longstanding radio bops “Chelsea Dagger” and “Whistle For the Choir” are prime examples of the band’s breadth. However, on their most recent record, In Your Own Sweet Time, The Fratellis come around to modern trends, adding yet another dimension to their sound.
Opening track “Stand Up Tragedy” sets listeners up wonderfully with a trail of smiling faces and dancing bodies. Similarly, the appropriately titled “Sugarland” exposes an unabashed incorporation of bright ’80s-inspired keyboards and a sappy British invasion rock and roll sob story. The Fratellis have a knack for telling stories rich in detail through song, now showcasing this with infectious melodies that are even more upbeat than previous releases.
In Your Own Sweet Time goes on to contain more songs firmly rooted in upbeat retro delirium. “Next Time We Wed” imparts a hilariously brilliant hoedown, while “I Guess I Suppose” has more of a sultry, underground feel. Both live up to the band’s reputation of laying out vivid anecdotes to eclectic rock and roll melodies.
Some might argue that all music tells some sort of tale, but The Fratellis add a special touch with their Glasgow perspective and personal attachment. Tracks like “Starcrossed Losers”—“She prayed for his attention, often on repeat/ He was in denial in his own backyard,” and “Indestructible”—“See that girl walking out amongst the fireflies, in competition with no vision, on a conquest”—give off a magnetic pull from vocalist Jon Fratelli’s lips to listeners’ ears. The group’s precise pauses and eloquent diction make its lyrics lovely and palatable. These songs’ instrumental immensity complements their simple narrations to the effect of a film score.
The Fratellis’ nuanced ability to resurrect a classic rock feel now finds common ground with contemporary sounds. “I’ve Been Blind” sports the transcendent dynamics of Queen and the concise grooves of Colony House, while “Laughing Gas” brings in an electronic dance-pop aesthetic. Their impressive use of synthetic beats and samples forms a beautiful union with controlled percussion, as exemplified by “Advaita Shuffle” remaining rooted in the band’s unmistakable rock sensibilities and the juxtaposition of bouncy indie rock balladry and minimalist dream machines on “Told You So.” Closing track “I Am That” throws one more curveball by takes on a gloomy undertone for its synth-pop explorations as a compelling conclusion to this roller coaster of an album.
Through In Your Own Sweet Time, The Fratellis evolve with their listeners, making use of new instrumentation and telling riveting, yet relatable stories for listeners to process. It is a passion project both two the past and the future; a phenomenon in its own right.
Writer Max Heilman contributed to this review. Follow Vic Silva at Twitter.com/VicSilvaaaa.