One of the greatest perils of being in an oddball indie band is, paradoxically, having a hit record. Kings of Leon spent more than a decade slagging off, and then coming to terms with, their Yates-at-chucking-out-time banger ‘Sex On Fire’. Portland supremos Modest Mouse, meanwhile, accidentally blasted themselves into the stratosphere with 2004’s ‘Float On’ – their last album, 2015’s oddly remote, over-produced ‘Strangers To Ourselves’, implied that they’d spent the years in between trying to figure out how to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
And so to Glasgow’s The Fratellis, whose Yates-at-kicking-off-time banger ‘Chelsea Dagger’ has overshadowed the band since it rocketed the then-unknowns into the Top 10 in 2006, a time when a pork pie hat and a dream was all that stood between you and a mid-afternoon set at V Festival. 43 million YouTube streams of the song – and just as many sports montages and pub brawls – followed. The album of jaunty, scratchy indie tunes that the song appeared on, ‘Costello Music’, sold more than a million copies and spent no less than 83 weeks in the charts. If you checked out after that, here’s some potentially surprising news: five albums later, the trio have released 10 classy, lush songs audibly inspired by ‘60s girl group doo-wop.
The opening title track sees them quick-step through delicate harpsichord, layered strings, ‘AM’-era Arctic Monkeys falsetto backing vocals and an unfortunate reference to Johnny Depp (the pandemic delayed the album’s release for almost a year). The lads then swirl through parpy schmaltz (‘Need A Little Love’), Wall of Sound balladry (‘Strangers in the Street’) and the time-honoured indie-pop tradition of crooning a woman’s name over and over again (‘Oh Roxy’). You’re advised to leave your winkle-pickers at the door for this one, though.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, frontman Jon Fratelli – not his real name, readers – reflected on the success of ‘Chelsea Dagger’. “I doubt Rod Stewart wants to be playing ‘Maggie May’ every night,” he said, adding: “But that’s the deal you make… ‘Chelsea Dagger’ is a song for a crowd. When we play it, we fade into the background and it becomes theirs.” You might struggle to picture the band schmoozing through this sleek, coiffed set before shifting gear into the pint-chucking anthem of the ‘00s. But if The Fratellis made a deal with the Devil, album six proves that he’s still in possession of some decent tunes.
Release date: April 2
Record label: Cooking Vinyl