In an ever-increasing digital age, the simple notion of being sent a physical copy of an album to review is a rather heart-warming move. So when Are You Listening?, the debut album by Swedish/British outfit The Franklys arrived with a handwritten note that hoped yours truly would enjoy the record, it did much to put a smile across this reviewer’s face. A lovely bunch of people to boot as well, discovered when interviewing them at Download Festival last year, the band’s prolific touring not only across the festival circuit but on supporting slots with the likes of Airbourne has generated significant hype around the release of this album, which will arrive next month having been recorded under the guidance of Sean Douglas and Jimmy O and Mike Sorbello of The Graveltones fame.
Don’t let the above fool you though, because The Franklys have plenty of bite hiding underneath what could be considered a soft, welcoming exterior. Opening track ‘Castaway’ is a straight up rocker, combining the punk of early Blondie with the fuzz and tone of Queens of the Stone Age and backed by the frantic work of drummer Lex Clark. It’s a cocktail that sets a real tone for the rest of the album; follow up number (and recent single) ‘Weasel’ follows a similar path but also gives guitarist Fanny Broberg her first opportunity to flex her muscles and crack out one of a number of impressive solos across the record. The punk vibes continue into ‘Puppet’, echoing the likes of UK upstarts Marmozets whilst ‘Keeper’ brings the tempo down a notch but features a great soaring chorus married with gang vocals. The stand out track though is ‘You Go, I leave’, the longest song on the record (and even then only just over four minutes in length) and a strong, rumbling number beginning with the excellent work of bassist Zoe Biggs; it succeeds in sending the listener right back to the heavy blues of the 1970’s, further boosted by a brilliant vocal performance from Jennifer Alkhvist; indeed, her voice throughout the album is a real driving point, because despite keeping things melodic and contained there is a real venom and anger emitted from her delivery, proof that you don’t have to shout and swear to hammer a point home and providing a nice comparison to the whole of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
What makes Are You Listening? even more impressive is that despite the sharp vocals and boisterous volume, it’s incredibly accessible and easy to listen to. The feel-good atmosphere of ‘Too Tall’ is the perfect number to lift spirits and the swagger and frenzy of closing track ‘Bad News’ rounds everything off with a rather large cherry on the top of the cake. It isn’t a perfect record – neither ‘Imaginarium’ or ‘Comedown’ crackle and burn as brightly as the rest, the former being over before it’s really got going and the latter just not as interesting a song – but in the grand scheme of things, that borders on nitpicking.
Put simply, this is a great debut from a band who have got big things ahead of them; it’s a captivating body of work that will make you want to go straight back to the start and listen to it all over again. The answer to the album’s title? Well, everyone will be once this gets out and about.
Jennifer Alkhvist – guitar, lead vocals
Fanny Broberg – lead guitar, backing vocals
Zoe Biggs – bass
Lex Clark – drums
You Go, I Leave
Don’t Kill Your Friends