If Mumford and Sons met early Arcade Fire on a street corner and had a pleasant conversation, this album would be the natural result.
Earlier this year, Montreal alternative folk pop quartet the Franklin Electric re-released their debut album, This Is How I Let You Down, and, in doing so, remixed four songs, added two new songs, and added an orchestrated version of the song “Unsatisfied”. How does it sound? Well, if Mumford and Sons met early Arcade Fire on a street corner and had a pleasant conversation, this album would be the natural result, just with a touch of added horns thrown into the mix to give it that Broken Social Scene style of Canadian indie cred. And it’s very well done. Now, this disc isn’t going to win awards for originality -- though the song “Old Piano” did win a Nashville-based songwriting competition early on in the band’s career -- but if you like pop with a folk bent, the Franklin Electric do a fine job of copying a very trendy sound. The only knock I have against this LP is that, even at a fairly manageable length of roughly 43 minutes, it feels a touch on the long side. I suppose it’s just there’s only so much of that Mumford kind of thing one can stomach, and, truthfully, because the record sounds quite remarkably like one by the Mumfords, you get the sense that this folksy kind of thing might have a rather limited shelf life.
Still, you can easily make friends with this album. Fans of Coldplay might enjoy the piano ballad “Alone”, in particular, which is one of the new tracks and may point to the direction in which the band is now going. “Strongest Man”, which kicks off things, gradually builds to a swelling crescendo, and is an inviting start to the album. “Watching from a Rooftop” has a vaguely Dave Matthews feel, too. Thus, there are points where the band transcends its natural influences. While the album is hardly a letdown, and, as far as songwriting goes, it’s actually pretty strong, one wishes the group could branch out a little more and go beyond their tendency to write songs that sound exactly like “I Will Wait” by you-know-who. All of that aside, This Is How I Let You Down is utterly charming and shows us that British pop-folkers don’t have a monopoly on a particular style. If you like music that is soaring and anthemic, but quiet and lush, it’s well worth the trip to your local record store and putting a bag of quarters on the counter in exchange for this platter. Otherwise, wait and see what this outfit does for a follow-up before committing.