herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Frankie & the Heartstrings

Sunderland. Home of a football club that was once part-owned by Charlie Chawke, the Dublin publican who once gave the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern two-and-a-half grand old money to help with his divorce fees.

Our former prime minister collects an annual pension of €134k. He recently got a yearly top up of around €2k.

What's this got to do with rock'n'roll? Everything.

Bertie and the politicians who presided over Ireland's economic collapse are being rewarded with hefty pension pots while benefit payments to one-parent families are being slashed.

That's the sort of social inequity that in another era or country, might have started a revolution. Or, at least, prompted songs of protest.

They know about this sort of stuff in Sunderland where local band Frankie & the Heartstrings opened Pop Recs, a pop-up record shop, a few years ago. The place quickly became a community hub and buzzy arts space, hosting toddler groups, music classes, poetry nights and stitch 'n' bitch sessions. Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines and others played there.

It was forced to close a few weeks ago because the local council sold the premises. Not great timing, because the five-piece band have a new 12-track album out this week and are scrabbling to find a new location for the shop while undertaking a tour to highlight the new album.

Their debut, Hunger, made an impression on the charts in 2011. With some exposure, Decency could top that.

They sound like they're have fun playing a tightly coiled brash garage-rock repertoire that's in touch with concerns on the street.

At times, they might seem in thrall to Kevin Rowland. No bad thing. Save It For Tonight has the punchy dynamics that helped make Dexys special.

This is the band's first album with new members Ross Millard of The Futureheads and Michael Matthews of This Ain't Vegas. Their influence can be discerned on the harmonic power-pop exploration of love lost Hate Me Like You Used To.

Elsewhere, it's driving drums, power-chord guitars and urgent vocals. Nothing too slick. The band's trump card is a joyous sense of old-school daredevil punk spirit and DIY enthusiasm.

Blasting brass punctuates Someday Anna, a rumbustious mix of The Blades and Showaddywaddy.

A Northern soul beat and a staccato guitar usher in the title track, Decency, with its opening salvo, "You need a slap for everything you stand for..." Like I said, its either revolution or rock'n'roll.

HHHII

(Wichita)

Promoted articles

Entertainment News