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Scottish rogues' second
helping not as satisfying

The Fratellis - Here We Stand
(Interscope Records)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 30, 2008
The Fratellis

Review by Tony Bonyata

The cover of The Fratellis' newly released Here We Stand album features a suited circus ring leader with magician's wand and megaphone as if to announce that this effort is the magic showstopper to the Scottish rock trio's wildly successful 2006 debut Costello Music. Unfortunately, it instead only proves to be a mildly enjoyable sideshow to that album.

Where they once sounded like an explosive pub rock band ready to jump on the bar, turn up the amps and swing from the rafters, they now sound more like they'd rather sit at a side table and toss back a pint while discussing how they're going to carry their formula through to the next record. Not only does the lead-off single "Mistress Mabel" lack the immediate punch of former hits such as "Henrietta," "Chelsea Dagger," "Flathead" and "Baby Fratelli," but there isn't any one song here to reach the heights of not only these tracks, but pretty much the rest of Costello Music. Songs such as "Stragglers Moon" and "Baby Doll" sound like tired, uninspired rockers going through the motions, while the two tracks "A Heady Tale" and the stomper "Tell Me A Lie," while both entertaining numbers, finds frontman Jon Fratelli mimicking The White Stripes' Jack White so closely (both vocally and in song structure) you'll find yourself waiting for Meg White's rudimentary, yet volatile beat to come crashing in - which it never does.

With that said, however, the album isn't without its charm, as proven by the galloping opener "My Friend John" which features a scorching guitar riff and catchy chorus, as well the piano-driven bittersweet balladry of "Milk and Honey" and the swaggering second single from the album "Look Out Sunshine."

While not a full-fledged sophomore slump, Here We Stand certainly does lack the homeruns that The Fratellis seemed to knock out of the park so effortlessly on their first record.

Related articles:

Costello Music - CD review - Mar. 2007

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