Review: The Fratellis – We Need Medicine
Published on October 8th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
It’s easy to be sniffy about The Fratellis, but by gum they were always a damn sight more palatable than their obvious peers amongst the previous decade’s ‘garage rock revival’. We Need Medicine hammers home the differences.
The Glaswegians’ third album arrives after a hiatus that saw front man Jon Fratelli’s solo album Psycho Jukebox sink unjustly without trace, and it’s as melodically astute and brimming with gleeful energy as the band have been from the outset.
That is also to say that We Need Medicine holds precisely nothing in the way of surprises, practically inviting the aforementioned sniffiness. Nonetheless it is a blast, elevated well beyond the humdrum – and even, arguably, dumb fun – by a procession of unmistakably canny touches.
There’s the stomping punctuation of “Halloween Blues”, the sly rhumba piano of “This Old Ghost Town” and the classic songwriting of “Rock N Roll Will Break Your Heart”, a gorgeous number that could have stepped straight off Psycho Jukebox.
Reference points may stock up but they’re invariably positive: “Whisky Saga” reminds of latter-day Supergrass, while “She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving” is like a primo Arctic Monkeys number with the lyrical prowess to match (“There’s a joke that they told her when she got much older / When she knew just what she’d become”)…oh, and a Beatles-y guitar solo.
Occasionally We Need Medicine errs a little too close to stadium rock – the chorus of “This is Not the End of the World” is probably the main offender in this regard – although “Whisky Saga” almost seems to anticipate the critics with “Pitchforks pointing my way, and it’s no coincidence”.
That’s not necessarily a saving grace in itself, but the singalong likes of the title track and triumphant Hoedown “Until She Saves My Soul” redeem it with ‘good fun’ registering higher than ‘cynical inclusivity’.
If The Fratellis’ innate musicality and enthusiasm can’t get under your skin, there’s a chance you might be taking life a little too seriously.
We Need Medicine is out now on BMG.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!