The Fratellis – Half Drunk Under a Full Moon
Since Scot rock trio The Fratellis debuted with Costello Songs, Chelsea Dagger has remained immovable from its prime spot as a pub banger. The track’s football chant frivolity triggered a rowdy buzz, propelling the band into the sweaty realms of ebullient, cheap-thrill rock’n’roll. Their last album, In Your Own Sweet Time, safely traded scratchy indie for a more cohesive song set, though it was still abundant with sarcastic, school-boy swagger. In between, they chugged out plenty of rough-edged hooks to pad out their stadium anthem channel of music, but did little more than that. They were the pulsating core of underground Camden clubs but failed to linger beyond that fleeting rush, with such hyperactive temperament and often distasteful wordplay. Their new album, however, swerves sideways and will have listeners double-taking.
Half Drunk Under a Full Moon brims with the band’s notorious cheeky wink, but 60s doo-wop overwhelms any significant indie avenue. It’s so peculiar, it somehow works. The title song twinkles with such sweeping grandiosity, there is little time to register surprise. Cultural references are flung like indulgent confetti, with “cinnamon girls and cherry coke” galore. Aside from an awkward Johnny Depp reference (unfortunately suffered in every chorus), it’s a savvy opener of glam harpsichord: different, but with implications of a new direction and a flamboyance that’s hard to reject.
Psycadelics are also favoured in Living in the Dark, swimming through youthful drums for an infectious melody. The Supremes are at the forefront in Need a Bit of Love, which bounces along in happy repetitions of a sickly sweet love chase. The Last Songbird hovers on a hoedown but entraps listeners with a rolling lyric structure. It’s, once again, odd – almost a jig, blended with forceful rock influences – but The Fratellis can’t be knocked for any lack of conviction.
Drawls of “the long road” in Lay Your Body Down are unashamedly country. Though it features a tiresomely overused motif with comfortable chord progressions to match, it’s an easy listen that, if anything, is pleasant as respite from their usual rowdiness. Oh Roxy pines for a girl with the persistent whine of teenage indie-pop love songs, but Hey Stranger is a strong finish. A poignant base undergirds insights with nostalgic reverberations – classier than expected.
The Fratellis handed their Chelsea Dagger hit to the crowds long ago, but this new release reasserts control with a sleek satisfaction in knowing they are catching listeners off-guard. Their loyalty to hooligan excitability prevents the trio from achieving the nuanced gravity of their rock inspirations, but there are undercurrents of subtler, more lush compositions here. Such a diversion from their fans’ comfort zone is brave, but long overdue – and besides, a gritty juvenility still thrusts their presence forward. The Scots’ place in indie rock is now trickier to define, making it interesting to see how they will utilise their untameable energy next.
Half Drunk Under a Full Moon is released on 2nd April 2021. For further information or to order the album visit The Fratellis’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Half Drunk Under a Full Moon here: