Nearly 12 years since the release of their revered debut Costello Music, the Fratellis continue to be a band that sounds like they are having immense fun and enjoying the opportunities to perform, write, and record. On their fifth album In Your Own Sweet Time, they lightheartedly explore new genres and stylistic cues, pulling in a lot of playfulness, and deliver hook after hook across an instantly enjoyable set of tracks.
The same impulsively rapturous songs about love, drugs, sex, and storytelling the band has told on previous albums remain, but with a spontaneity that leads their indie roots into conversing with danceable beats, rhythms, and inventive explorations of worldly music. Ultimately, the band’s performances, from rhythm guitars to piano additions, produce a lively, fun, record that thrills and excites from start to finish. Sometimes there are recognizable and cliched rhythms and softly performed lead solos, but these only intensify the solid work put forward by the band and this album. In Your Own Sweet Time reverberates around self-deprecation in places, but mostly humanizing and more often humorous with lyrical wordplay and out of place phrasings.
The track “Advaita Shuffle” is the most experimental track included in this loud, roaring set of songs. Incorporating a Hindu meaning with lyrics that come out of left field and dominate the concluding minute (“She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes”), the song has strength in its musical arrangement, primarily its driving guitar work. It’s fun and dominant, delivered by a band confident in their work and the direction they are pursuing with In Your Own Sweet Time. Together, it’s hard not to pay attention to the irony of the song titles and the lyrics performed with vivid falsetto. “Laughing Gas” by far presents the band having outright fun, and as the title suggests, that is the intended result. Leading into “Advaita Shuffle” has the effect of distraction when the drone and expansive atmosphere replace a joyous affair centered around playfulness.
Jon Fratelli additionally brings in a new falsetto set of vocal performances in the opening pair of tracks, “Stand Up Tragedy” and “Starcrossed Losers”, and the second updates Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet tale. These songs give the album its immediacy and provide its repeatability, delivering a sneer and attitude that could offend if it wasn’t so irreverently performed and outrightly fun. Other tracks with similar intentions are less successful and feel out of place. “The Next Time We Wed” features similar themes to “Told You So” and “I’ve Been Blind”, the tracks preceding and following it respectively, but the musical backing is too different and relies heavily upon a pop style and danceability. That leaves the track distinct in an unflattering way, particularly from the deeper revelations its lyrics include about bad behavior and the continued strands in “I’ve Been Blind.”
Deep lyrics and developed arrangements also make In Your Own Sweet Time an easy album to replay over and over, particularly from the fun rejection offered by the lyrics of “Stand Up Tragedy” and the deeper closing played out in “I Am That”. These are the opening and closing tracks respectively, and both lay out the repeatable quality of the Fratellis new album. The opener brings the familiar immediately: a jubilant atmosphere and piercing musicianship; the closing track sees the band push ahead from and with the album: a lengthy, droning song that represents the entirety of the album. Lyrics never dive too seriously into meditative constructions, instead focusing on hooks that carry forward as much as they stand out. The collected arrangement of the album and its tracks delivers a light affair that will play nicely in concert.
The most divergent track on the album and perhaps the most enticing is closer “I Am That”. Closing tracks need strength and to work as an invitation for repeat listens (this one succeeds there), but also to show the band forging ahead (this one does that, too). A consistent piano along with expansive atmosphere marked by an Eastern instrumentation discard all of the lightheartedness of the album without losing the effect of a stark musical and tonal shift. Altogether, In Your Own Sweet Time, is a solid effort from a seasoned band, and promises more spontaneous musical performances for the band ahead, be it on tour promoting this record or in any follow-ups. The Fratellis share a lot of fun on this record and it’s worth listening to for that sheer delight.