Half British, half-Swedish, The Franklys rock. Are You Listening? is their debut album and, frankly, you can’t not. Garage in style, they do not do quiet.
The Franklys’ world is brash, playful and empowered. Are You Listening? is littered with their romantic escapades and lessons learned. The first single, ‘Castaway’, has them confronting a cowardly man with vocalist Jen Ahlkvist shouting him down like Medusa in a leather jacket. The album version mucks about with false finishes and generally toys with your affections.
To be honest, you wouldn’t want to be anyone that these songs are directed at. ‘You Go I Leave’ has the musical depth of The White Stripes, ‘You have to leave me alone…cos I am not what you own.’ ‘Too Tall’ is another about growth and emotional confidence, ‘I grew too tall and I stepped away from your wretched heart.’ All the songs are backed by the drum hammer of Lexi Clark and the growl of Fanny Broberg’s guitar, quite the most charismatic lead guitarist live.
Even when it seems like it could be romantic, the noise is all warning. ‘Weasel’ is the second single and the earthiest of love songs, ‘My love, he can’t drink hot drinks/He hates it when his phone rings.’ Ahlkvist is a Scandinavian Debbie Harry with a sense of humour. She performs octave-shifting vocals worthy of Ari Up and Poly Styrene.
‘Puppet’ has a brilliant repetitive hook, ‘You never wanted me’, a lyrical feature that is a real strength throughout the album. This track is definitely one to play on repeat. There are some great moments on it when all the instruments bond. They are like something unstoppable barrelling out of the dark.
Even within that distinctly Franklys sound they have variety. On ‘Keeper’ Zoe Biggs’s bassline prowls, in synch with Clark’s drumming on this sinister song of possession. Together they are sinuous as a boa constrictor in a mangrove. In contrast, ‘Imaginarium’ has a fuller, more sophisticated sound due to the addition of keys. It has an extended instrumental intro with a melody and, later, vocal that are more emotionally exposed. Vulnerability would be putting it too strongly but it is moving.
The finale is ‘Bad News’, a track they thump their way through with riffs deserving of some serious air guitar. This is full throttle music. The Franklys have this genre down to a fine art. What is so great is the way in which they are so creative within it. They are a genuine talent to watch.
The Franklys. Hear them roar.
Are You Listening? will be released on 23rd June through Halta Halta Records.
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