Best known for hit single “Chelsea Dagger,” a raucous anthem that became the goal song for numerous sports teams, Scottish indie rock band The Fratellis recently released their fifth album, In Your Own Sweet Time. The new release strays from their usual boisterous sound—it's more refined, though delightfully colorful and energetic.
The new album is the most consistently catchy one since their 2006 debut, Costello Music, which yielded "Chelsea Dagger." Lead vocalist and guitarist Jon Fratelli (John Lawler), bass guitarist Barry Fratelli (Barry Wallace), and drummer and backing vocalist Mince Fratelli (Gordon McRory) admirably integrate pop and rock sounds, transforming their drunken, pub vibe with new techno/synth sounds and complex vocal harmonies.
“Stand Up Tragedy,” the first of 12 songs, sets the tone for the album with its earworm guitar riffs, and Jon’s newfound falsetto. The song is skillful, controlled chaos—a vibe not uncommon throughout the track. Jon, whose unique vocal timbre has always been one of the band’s best assets, also shows off his vocal prowess prominently in “The Next Time We Wed,” where he mixes his usual crystalline belting with lighter, flirty notes.
“Starcrossed Losers,” another standout piece, shows off the Fratellis’s gentle side, with sweet, cohesive vocals, and clever instrumental layering. The song harkens back to the nostalgic romance of Costello Music’s “Whistle for the Choir,” but with the band’s new flare. This delicate romance is also evident in “Sugartown,” which features a savvy combination of John’s determined verses, and playful bass lines and drum bursts from Barry and Mince.
The album also feels psychedelic and '70s–esque at points, particularly in “Told You So,” which has a lazy, floating feel, with continuous synth, and echoing vocals. “Indestructible” also has similar tinny, swaggering, vocals, as well as telltale techno keyboard. “I’ve Been Blind,” also feels very '70s, with perhaps the best choral climaxes on the album.
“Laughing Gas” and “I Guess… I Suppose…,” are some of the most bouncy, fun songs on the album. “Laughing Gas” has smooth vocals, with drumming that drives the song’s friskiness. “I Guess... I suppose…" is very suave and melodic, though the Fratellis’ roots are recognizable in the jauntiness of the intro and reoccurring instrumental backing.
The band also experiments successfully with Middle Eastern inspired sounds in the fierce “Adviata Shuffle” and the dreamy, hypnotic, “I Am That.”
In Your Own Sweet Time is undoubtedly tight. It proves the Fratellis’ versatility and ability to evolve—the most important quality of any long–lasting band.