Full-bodied, raucous and chock full of energy, the debut full length from London based 4-piece The Franklys calls for a definitive answer to the title and yes, we are listening. It starts off strong with arguably the album’s catchiest tune – Castaway features Sweden’s Jennifer Ahlkvist roaring in garage-rock-revival style, taking us back to the era of Blondie. But here we are in 2017, and although the hard-hitting Anglo-Swedes might not make it to the top of the charts, they have received nothing but high praise for their live show which will undoubtedly carry these ladies towards success.
The heavy, dirty bass brought to you by Zoe Biggs is at its pinnacle in Puppet, followed by an insanely catchy guitar riff a la Fanny Broberg (who really does take centre stage throughout the album). Add a horn section and you might almost mistake them for No Doubt, particularly during certain parts of Weasel and Too Tall. A little too serious and a little too mature to make a direct comparison there, but Jennifer’s screechy (in a good way) rock & roll voice is just a little bit reminiscent of Gwen at times. (In a good way).
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Each song is slightly different in tone, but there is a recognizable over-arching theme: the aches and pains of growing up, cutting ties with toxic people and finding happiness through making tough decisions. In Comedown, the girls tackle the heavy theme of drug addiction, and if you’ve ever seen loved ones go down that “big black hole”, this song will hit you hard. More introspective tracks like Keeper show that there’s more to their sound than heavy bass lines and shouty anthems. If poetic lyrics are what you’re after, put on Imaginarium and get lost in some pretty metaphors before an anguished Ahlkvist repeats a question that we’ve all likely asked ourselves at one time or another – “What happened on that night?” Bad News is the perfect finish, with Lexi Clark’s grooviest drum beat of them all, it leaves you with the important reminder to always trust your gut.
Their high-energy, danceable live show has been reflected on the record which is something not many bands can do this well – and it comes across as effortless. With a few production hiccups early on with the levels seeming a bit off in the first few songs, it evens out beautifully and eventually makes you forget about it entirely.
It’s hard to categorize this album into a specific genre – garage rock would be the most obvious answer but there are some funk, pop and definitely punk moments which make for a very interesting and versatile record. They have mastered the art of writing pop songs, while managing to keep it heavier than anything you’d ever hear on a Hot 100 station. Never a dull moment with this lively quartet and their edginess has us on the edge of our seats to see what they will release next.
You can catch them live in London at the Lexington on July 20th.