Saturday, December 13, 2008

10 Classic Irish Albums (8)

Not strictly an album, but I couldn’t leave the Leesiders out, and seeing that 2006’s A Renewed Interest In Happiness is the only studio album I own and is fairly so-so, we’re gonna go with this. The Franks first came to prominence in the early 90’s with their colourful, zany indie-pop; at the height of their popularity they reached number 11 in the UK charts with ‘After All’ and were supported by Suede and Radiohead. They were soon left behind by the mainstream as Britpop came along and wooed the masses, but this excellent collection shows that their gift for a contagious melody stayed with them even when they became more of a cult concern.

Songs like ‘Colours’, ‘Fashion Crisis Hits New York’ and ‘After All’ combine infectious hooks with that peculiarly early-90’s jangly guitar sound, while Paul Linehan’s eccentric delivery (or is that just the Cork accent?) and frequently oddball lyrics also play their part in the distinctive Frank and Walters sound. Yet they also have a melancholy streak running through much of their work, such as the graceful, elegiac ‘New York’ or the superb ‘Daisy Chain’.

This compilation is a testament to the art of great pop music, although I do have a couple of minor quibbles: there’s no inclusion for the classic ‘Michael’, a song that beat Franz Ferdinand at their own game before they even existed; or their cover of The Smiths’ ‘Cemetry Gates', which taps hidden reserves of melancholy. What’s that? The Frank and Walters making a Smiths song more melancholic? Yes, you heard me right.

Standout Tracks: Colours, Fashion Crisis Hits New York, Daisy Chain

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