It’s been said that a week is a long time in show business; I would therefore suggest five years must seem like a lifetime to associated with the Fratellis. However, the sabbatical is now over and the band finally has a chance to rinse away the bad taste that 2008’s “Here We Stand” left in the mouth.
The difficult second album, “Here We Stand”, could have been the nail in the coffin for the likable Glaswegians. It was soulless and predictable and coming so soon after the excellent debut “Costello Music” was a massive disappointment. There were none of the anthems and festival favorites that had gone before and most of the music industry, and general public, simply moved onto the next big thing.
However, five years down the line something quite remarkable happened. While there can sometimes be an air of predictability in the music industry, the Fratellis swam against this by not only reforming but also selling out their UK tour dates (and with relative ease). Add to this the incredible reception they received at this years ‘T in the Park’ and it appeared that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t quite finished with the Fratellis.
A new album was as inevitable as Tuesday following Monday. Nostalgia laden tours alone rarely contain any real last-ability (unless you have a back catalogue similar to the Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac … unfortunately the Fratellis do not). In fact, generally these tours are similar to bumping into an ex-partner … great for the first 5 minutes but then you realise why you split. However, any future Fratellis album demanded progression and in this case it had to be a case of making ‘that’ album they should have made in 2008. It would have been so easy to replicate “Costello Music”, create a couple of sing-a-long tunes, some hand-clappers just to keep that momentum going. But incredibly the band have actually gone one better.
“We Need Medicine” is confirmation that reforming was the correct idea. It contains a myriad of catchy, up-beat tracks that are also lyrically pleasing to the ear. While the overall sound echo’s the previous two albums, there is a invigorating freshness to proceedings that is as much of a relief as it is absorbing. The clever song writing from “Costello Music” is not only back but at times bettered and it becomes quite apparent the hiatus was a blessing in disguise.
The first four tracks bound along relentlessly. “Halloween Blues”, “This Old Ghost Town” (which incidentally contains the most addictive guitar riff i’ve heard in a long while) and “Seven Nights Seven Days” are testament to this new resurgent Fratellis. It’s impossible not to be drawn in.
The blues sounding “Whisky Saga” stands out though and will no doubt be a future release. It’s a real return to form and isn’t meant to be anything more than a fun, foot-tapper (not a ‘banjo-wielding parody of themselves’, as mentioned in another bizarre review I spotted online). It’s likable throughout.
There are of course some average moments on the album but these are few and far between. “Shotgun Shoes” falls victim to the tracks either side of it and if completely honest simply plods along without really going anywhere. The title track “We Need Medicine” is bluegrass in production and is a little too far removed from the rest of the album. However, the disappoint is short-lived as you are thrust into the star of the album, “Rock N Roll Will Break Your Heart”. It’s a beautifully written track that cleverly uses a alternating pace that takes you a little by surprise. A wonderfully organ inspired instrumental break and key change add to its overwhelming presence on the album.
A lot of people would have had their fingers burnt with “Here We Stand” but the band seem to put this well and truly behind them with this release. In these days of Spotify and Deezer it would be rude not to try before you buy. Of course some will question its lack of its uniqueness but there is no doubt that they’ve produced a set of memorable songs that fit nicely into any future touring and festival dates.
The full track listing for “We Need Medicine” is as follows…
This Old Ghost Town
She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving
Seven Nights Seven Days
This Is Not The End Of The World
We Need Medicine
Rock n Roll Will Break Your Heart
Until She Saves My Soul
Download: Rock N Roll Will Break Your Heart, This Old Ghost Town
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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