The Fratellis, a sub-Arctic Monkeys publicity project from Britain seemingly custom-built to fuel the prone-to-hyperbole press over there, is bursting into America with as much exuberance as a hooligan can muster: iPod soundtrack and graphic art in hand, they have all the ingredients, but just can’t seem to make the omelette. Place them side by side with the Libertines and there’s no comparison: there’s only one real rock group here. That iPod soundtrack song, which is The Flathead EP‘s title track, is a stomp of conscious yobbism—packing as much raucous celebration as is humanly possible into one song. This is music meant to evoke (invoke?) a football riot. For its intention, you can’t argue too much—but that doesn’t mean it’s any good, of course. And things don’t get too much better from there—taking strong cues from ska and punk traditions, the MOA is to cram as many bits of melody as is humanly possible into one song. But instead of being buoyant pop gems, these songs come out as half-formed mess, in bad need of an editor. Either way, The Flathead EP serves its purpose: it provides an accurate representation of this band’s music, and builds anticipation (at least, attempts to) for the band’s full-length. We know precisely what this band’s all about, and we’re in a perfectly adequate decision to make a judgment regarding our level of interest in their future efforts. All of which is just about to say, the Fratellis are the musical equivalent of Andy Millman’s When the Whistle Blows: broad, catchphrase-based, and utterly demoralizing.
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