Fratellis carry music from Scotland to States

The Fratellis’ debut album, Costello Music, hit stores on March 13.By Laura Mortkowitz

Although British singers like Lily Allen and Corinne Bailey Rae beat them to the States, a Scottish band named The Fratellis beat the women at the 2007 Brit Awards to win the honor of British Breakthrough Act. Now, The Fratellis’ Costello Music has been released in the good old US of A.

The best vote of confidence The Fratellis could get as they made the trip across the ocean came in the form of their song “Flathead” being used as the new song for the iTunes commercials.

So who are The Fratellis? Vocalist and guitarist Jon Fratelli, bassist Barry Fratelli and drummer Mince Fratelli are not actually related and none of their last names are really Fratelli. Their official Web site describes the band members in an interesting way; “So Mince was a stoner, Barry was a car thief and Jon was just a Jon.”

Most of the songs are infectious and catchy tunes that listeners might find themselves nodding their heads and singing along to. The music sounds like rowdy bar room music, especially with lyrics that can be vigorously shouted along to. For instance “bara bap bara ra ra” is not particularly creative but The Fratellis manage to make it fun and easy to sing (or just shout at the top of your lungs) along to.

The album’s opening song, “Henrietta,” channels The Beatles in the late ’60s and crosses it with modern upbeat guitars and The Fratellis’ almost sordid lyrics. Other songs have different elements. “Vince the Loveable Stoner” has a country feel, while the drums in the opening of “Creepin’ Up the Back Stairs” sound like ’30s swing music. The guitar in “Baby Fratelli” is a lighter and faster version of the guitar in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

It is not just the music that makes this an enjoyable album; The Fratellis’ lyrics are special in their own way. It becomes apparent that the boys are cocky and obsessed with women and sleazy lyrics, despite the misleadingly upbeat tunes. “Vince the Loveable Stoner” illustrates the band’s unique lyrics: “She’s so easy, was brought up in the country aha/She gets naked for a living, she ain’t afraid of giving aha.”

The lyrics are not just an unruly pub party. The confessional “Whistle for the Choir” delves deeper and gives the album more than a one-dimensional sound as Jon Fratelli croons: “And I must confess my heart’s all/Broke in pieces and my head’s a mess.”

Songs like “Henrietta,” “Chelsea Dagger” and “Vince the Loveable Stoner” are some of the best on the album. Also, there is something about the song “Got Ma Nuts From a Hippy” that you just have to like.

The album does have weak spots. The frantic song “The Gutterati?” (no clues are offered to what the title means) and the guitar in “For the Girl” become obnoxious after just a few seconds.

This is a good debut album that definitely will make some waves not only in its home country, but here as well.

For fans of bands like Hot Hot Heat, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellis is your answer to a new favorite band.

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