Frankie & The Heartstrings
Hunger


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (129 Reviews)
July 1st, 2011 | 7 replies | 4,038 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A vibrant indie-pop record fit to soundtrack anyone's summer.

We’ve had a pretty depressing lack of good indie-pop here in the UK over the past few years. Sure, there have been plenty of bands breaking through, but none in the vain of Franz Ferdinand or Maximo Park who made the art of writing an irresistible hook sound effortless when the genre was in an altogether more healthy state little over five years ago. Nowadays, we’re stuck with bands who value brains above danceability, which has left us with a batch of interesting, but ultimately soulless music which takes far more effort to enjoy – effort which, to be frank, is better exerted elsewhere. What most these bands don’t seem to understand is that while technical rhythms and outlandish influences can occasionally work a treat, there is still little that beats a good, catchy tune, and that sometimes the simplest pleasures can, in fact, be the best.

This is the angle from which Sunderland quartet Frankie & The Heartstrings approach their music, and as this debut full-length displays it’s an approach which can pay off wonderfully if done right. To state it bluntly, there is nothing new or particularly exciting about this band at all. Every trick on show here has been done before by countless other acts, and in all truth some of their songs could quite easily be mistaken for any number of similar bands from the past. What they, and band charismatic leader Frankie Francis in particular, do possess, however, is an uncanny knack for a hook which makes each and every song on this record an absolute joy to listen to. There’s no exceptional musicianship or poetic lyrical genius, just ten short but sweet jangly gems which are guaranteed to raise the spirits of all but the most miserable Scrooge.

Derivative as it may be, there’s barely a moment that won’t tempt you to humm along or tap your foot, whether it be the infectious guitar licks of Hunger, the subtle xylophone touches of Tender or the driving tempo of Don’t Look Surprised. The emphasis may be firmly on hooks, but that’s not to say that the record is entirely one dimensional. Indeed Francis’ desperate vocal in early standout Ungrateful is capable of sending shivers down the spine, while centerpiece Fragile has an undeniable emotional depth that many similar bands would struggle to match. Standards to drop slightly in the second half with some of the songs proving marginally less memorable and perhaps sounding a little rushed, but as far as filler goes it’s still pretty impressive, with each song still proving thoroughly appertising.

Unfortunately, indie-pop isn’t really known for it’s endurance, so it’s difficult to envisage a record like this being remembered overly fondly in a couple of years time. In the short term, though this fabulous collection of gems is more than enough to establish the band in an overcrowded market and is sure to pull in the crowds over the festival season. It may not be an album that’s going to lift the genre out of it’s current state of limbo, but what Hunger does show is that Frankie & The Heartstrings can pull off the indie-pop sound better than any other UK band in recent memory. You’ll be hard pushed to find a better soundtrack to your summer.



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user ratings (8)
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3.4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2011



7229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Originally written for http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

The record is still streaming on the band's website http://frankieandtheheartstrings.com/

Anyone who has even a vague interest in UK indie pop (especially the bands in the recommended section) should give this a try.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Count me as interested. Great review as usual Ali. Only nitpick is that it should be vein in the 2nd sentence, not vain.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2011



7229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Davey, I'll fix that. To be honest I'd be amazed if you didn't like this, give it a try.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011



7008 Comments


Great review Ali. Have a pos. Here's hoping you share your talent for writing with us a bit more often =)

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2011



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Hunger', the Edwyn Collins produced debut LP from Sunderland outfit Frankie & The Heartstrings, is a promising indie pop/rock record that often carries a retro rock'n' roll vibe. Jangly, spiky guitar hooks & catchy refrains highlight the mainly 3 minute tunes, yet there is sufficient variety evident from the 90 seconds of 'Possibilities' through to 6 minute successor 'Fragile'. It may not be the most original release you will ever hear, but it is fun, exuberant & likeably charming. With practically every 1 of its 10 tracks a potential single, 'Hunger' is consistently enjoyable. Recommended Tracks: Don't Look Surprised, Tender, Photograph & Hunger.

lancebramsay
November 30th 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I remember when you rec'd these guys awhile back, been digging on them hard for a bit now. I disagree about this not lasting though, good pop tunes tend to find themselves into playlists more often than not.

Otherwise, have a POS, time to start whoring this out now.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 1st 2011



7229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, glad you liked it!

I actually agree, I still listen to this quite a bit, it has a lot more longevity than I originally thought.

They're really good live too.



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