Frankie and the Heartstrings - Hunger
You've probably heard quite a lot about Frankie & The Heartstrings already. Touted by some as "the next big thing" and with generous radio time and column inches to boot, it's sometimes a risk to be being slapped with such a label, with the vultures circling to see if the product lives up to the early hype. So how do the North East lads fare? Do they live up to the early billing? Not really.
The slightly retro "let's go to the hop" meets 'Rock The Casbah'-era Clash feel is endearing; all very likable and fun, and album opener 'Photograph' starts things off with a bang. Hit single 'Ungrateful' quickly follows and sustains your attention. Both are clever and catchy with the added seduction of Michael McKnight's smooth Bryan Ferry-ish vocals making even the mediocre songs which follow sound pretty sexy.
Unfortunately the album begins to lose momentum and the cute retro-rock gets a bit tiresome. Title track and next single 'Hunger' is great with its jaunty melody and infectious oh oh oh's, but 'Possibilities' is weighed under by its rockabilly cliches and 'Tender' is simply rather dull. What sounded hip and fresh at the album's start begins to get boring and samey towards the end. While the excellent 'Fragile' livens things up, 'That Postcard' and 'It's Obvious' just seem content to recycle themes from the other songs.
No band asks to be saddled with some exec's marketing tag. Frankie and his pals are just a bunch of young guys trying to make a living with their music and the hype may prove to be more of hindrance than a help. So forget all the baggage if you can. This isn't the "next big thing" nor "the greatest thing since sliced bread." No, it's a decent debut by a more than pretty decent band and that, for now, is just fine.