ALBUM REVIEW: Jon Fratelli – Psycho Jukebox
Published on July 27th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
One of the great misunderstood bands of recent times, The Fratellis’ deceptively smart melodies and lyrical explorations always did outshine the lumbering garage rock revivalists they were so idly packaged along with for our media’s convenience.
Now shorn of the marketability of a traditional band format, the writer and singer of those ingeniously crafted songs has the opportunity to reassert his eminence on the strength of his material alone, as opposed to riding the unwanted gift horse presented by the acceptance of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ into lad culture.
Judging by other reviews of Psycho Jukebox, Jon Fratelli’s copybook has been blotted indelibly in the eyes of many, the associations his music unwittingly garnered to be used as sticks to beat him with forever more.
This is a shame, as this debut solo outing represents far more in the way of substance than style, Tony Hoffer’s blearily distorted production flying satisfyingly in the face of the “modern rock record” style bemoaned by Fratelli when we interviewed him in April.
Back then, Psycho Jukebox‘s flagship single “Santo Domingo” had taken Rocksucker by storm, moving us to describe it as – to quote ourselves – “a fuzzy and squelchy blast of sheer delirium the likes of which Beck might have come up with if he’d opened the doors after a Scottish winter to find the sun shining down on an impromptu street party”.
We’ll stand by that, just as we’ll stand by the praise we afforded to second single “Baby We’re Refugees!” when we named it our Single O’Week last month.
These twin gems are far from the only delights on offer. Opener “Tell Me Honey” skanks sexily along to a tooting keyboard chirrup before coming over all Dave Davies in its elated chorus, “Daddy Won’t Pay Your Bill” is heroic, rushing melancholy perfect for a sloshed singalong (not in the “Chelsea Dagger” sense, mind), “Rhythm Doesn’t Make You a Dancer” goes from jangly Britpop to sinister staccato hits and back again, “Cavemen” could quite conceivably have come from Beatles for Sale or Help!, while “Magic and Mayhem”, “Oh Shangri La” and “Give My Heart Back McGuire” sound like sixties girl group classics filtered through Pulp.
Ultimately, Psycho Jukebox sees Fratelli doing what he does best: three-minute pop songs strung together as summer soundtrack, blissfully uncaring of fads and trends yet cocksure enough to irk those who can’t tell the difference.
It’s pop music, very fine pop music, and sometimes that’s enough.No brooding epics or haunting atmospherics here. Just bloody good songs.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Psycho Jukebox is out now on Universal/Island. For more information, please visit jonfratelli.co.uk