11 Jun 2009 // A review by lukefitzmaurice
I fell in love with this album about five and a half minutes into track six. Up until that point I was reasonably impressed with the album, but I felt like Fat Freddy’s Drop hadn’t quite captured the vibe that made their first album so immensely successful. Then came track six, The Camel. It starts out fairly low-key, as does most of the album, slowly building up and dying away again as the track progresses. Then, on about the five minute mark, everything cuts back, first to a short café-jazz style instrumental, then to nothing but a guitar and the vocals of front man Joe Dukie. Then, slowly still, in comes the trumpet, then the keys, then the drums, and all of a sudden, there it is. The Fat Freddy’s magic is back.
The obvious first thing that I noticed about Fat Freddy’s Drops sophomore album is the fact that it is very, very long. Its 70 minute running time is made all the more remarkable by the fact that it contains only 9 tracks. Pull The Catch, track 5 on the album, is the shortest of all the songs, but even that runs for an impressive 5:18. However, despite their length, at no point did I feel like any song was dragging on for too long, as most of them just develop into extended jam sessions, much like their live sets also tend to do.
As for the album as whole, in my opinion it is even better than their debut, Based On A True Story, purely because of the enormous array of genres it spans. In Shiverman, the band produces a track that wouldn’t go amiss a crowd of thousands at a summer festival, while in the very next song, Boondigga, we hear a sound that wouldn’t be out of place played in a café to only a handful of people. Even within tracks we hear the sound evolve from genre to genre, in The Nod for example, which begins with a harmonica-driven blues riff before launching into big-band jazz, later dabbling in hip-hop, but holding the same beat right the way through. There’s that classic dub sound in The Raft and Wild Wind, soul in The Camel, and elements of funk littered right the way through the record. The way the band manages to pull together so many different styles of music is quite remarkable.
In general, the album seems slightly more upbeat than Based On A True Story. There are no really slow soulful songs like there were on that album in the form of Del Fuego and Hope. Personally, Hope was one of my favourites on that album, but the absence of any slower songs of the same vein does not seem to detract from Dr Boondigga And The Big BW. The fact that Fat Freddy’s Drop have spent two years perfecting this album is anything but surprising. There is not a single track which lets the others down, and at no point does the album sound strained or forced. It would not surprise me if this album spends even longer on the charts than their first one did, as it is simply sublime.