The label plastered on the case name-checks Quasi, Ben Folds, Mates Of State and Cat Power. Now, I’m usually skeptical of labels of all sorts, physical, linguistic, what-have-you, but at least the references provided were solid. As the disc spun up, the question on my mind was if Frankenixon talks the talk, do they walk the walk?
Yes, they do. The one thing all those bands named above have done is grab my attention before the first chorus, somehow pushing all the right buttons on the right order and lighting up the scoreboard. Frankenixon borrows several elements from those bands — especially in their percussive piano style — but most notably catches the knack of having a unique and identifiable melodic sensibility. It’s somewhat melancholy, wistful even, but not in the least bit sad. The band also stays pretty centered in their treatment of instruments. While they feature driving piano, a full-voiced female vocalist, and a guitarist that can all scream for your attention, everyone cooperates in an egalitarian way. The wistful strains of “Myrtle Way” give way to the bouncy melody of “I Hate You,” which jounces along in a style reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine.” “Flake” is an instrumental which wanders all over the place for six minutes, starting with Fastbacks-like rock chugging before smoothly segueing into jazzy riffs, space guitar, and so much more. The title of “Los Cojones del Diablo” may not seem to match the feel of the song, which alternates between smoky jazz verses and some more of that Beatles bounce on the choruses, but they certainly go with the lyrics. “Coastal” has some moments of angular brilliance, with oddly-metered bits and pieces and a superkinetic chorus. It’s also the only tune on here with male vocals.
Of course, there has to be some bad to counterbalance all this praise. The real problem starts after the fifth track. There’s no more songs. Five gems in an EP — catchy as all hell, and full of potential.