I’ve always loved The Fratellis. I first heard Flathead in middle school, when MTV would play music videos in the morning and my little preteen mind would absorb artists like Cold War Kids and Ween and think I was so alternative and underground. But The Fratellis were always something a little different back then; not that sad ballad-like symphony, not lyrics heavy with morals and heartbreak. The Fratellis have always been, and still are, just a carefree happy band with a “fuck with me or fuck you” attitude.
And so their latest album, Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied is rather true to the bands’ collective character. Jon Fratelli is an amazing lyricist, which is evident in each song, from the drab and slow Rosana to Baby Don’t Lie to Me. In fact, I’d say his lyricism is on par with Elvis Costello, whom I’m assuming Jon Fratelli deeply admires given the fact he named his first album Costello Music.
As I read various reviews online prior to writing my own, I realized this album wasn’t a big hit with critics. Some of the songs were described as “tedious, overwrought” (Luke Winstantley, Clash Magazine), and one of my favorite songs on the album, Dogtown, was characterized as a “less of a song and more of a horrid carousel of musical clichés”. Well, that’s not particularly untrue, but it’s also who the Fratellis are; they are an eccentric, raucous, no-nonsense kind of band.
And I understand the precept. Rewind to 2007, when the band released mega-hit Chelsea Dagger, which was on the same level as the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, and everyone was super excited about this brand-new Scottish band that came out of, seemingly, nowhere. Chelsea Dagger has proven to be hard to live up to even for the band that produced it. And almost a decade later we have this album, which I would argue has shown how much The Fratellis have matured over the years, while still retaining their “weirdness”.
I would recommend to give this album a listen; I can never be angry or upset after I listen to that happy-go-lucky, breakneck speed in which Mr. Fratelli plays his guitar and his hilariously vivacious lyrics. Definitely give Baby Don’t You Lie to Me and Medusa in Chains a listen. I also happen to love Dogtown, but I think that may just be me; just like the band itself, it’s sort of an acquired taste, like a Bloody Mary. But really, if you give a Bloody Mary a real chance, you’ll be hooked.