herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

It pops, it fizzles, IT's absolutely brilliant

The frank and walters Greenwich Mean TIme (Fifa Records)

Pure pop is timeless. It fizzles like bubbles in lemonade. Or Champagne. Great pop songs might seem simple, but they're difficult to write and even harder to record.

The Undertones knew how to write a great pop song. Another Irish band with a gift for infectious melody, memorable hooks and an inherent sense of wonderment is The Frank And Walters.

From Cork, they brightened Top of the Pops in the early '90s. After All was the biggest of their singles, as they made magazine covers and packed out venues.

Following the release of the album Trains, Boats and Planes in 1992, the Franks retreated from public gaze. I can't remember why. Probably a combination of daft industry stuff and the band's cheery exuberance being deemed uncool by London marketing wallahs.

Certainly, their resolve took a battering. But to their credit, despite losing one of the original trio, the Franks stuck with it. Not the most prolific, they've released just five albums and a compilation of B-sides in their 20-year career.

But if this was a movie script it would deserve a big, bright happy ending. And we might just have it.

This album opener, the single Indie Love Song is the Frank and Walters' song I've been waiting for since those heady early days. Ringing guitars adorn a driving tune that rises into the glorious chorus, "I tried to write you an indie love song. All I came up with, was only this one. Wo ooh ooh ooh."



Enchanting

The band's lyrical minimalism and gift for saying a lot with just a few well-chosen words is a style that shares something with Iggy Pop.

That's Life comes wrapped in a wonderful early Beatles'-style riff. "Wait 'til the weekend," sings bass-player Paul Linehan, a man who should be hailed The Voice of Ireland.

These 12 enchanting songs deal with aspects of time. "Twenty years and we're still alright," they chorus. Glorious. Given that they record on their own Fifa Records, it's apt to quote the old sporting proverb, "Form is temporary, class is permanent". HHHHI

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