Blow Me Down
The publicist that was trying to “sell” me on this album knew just the button to press — she described it as “the Ramones meets the Go-Go’s.” While Frigate don’t quite merit that lofty comparison, they don’t miss it by much, either, with a sound that’s as thrashy and muscular as the former while retaining the accessibility of the latter, throwing in a little of that mid-period Bad Religion feel in for good measure. The male-female vocal duo of guitarist Tim Gillis and bassist Scurvyann Bean (what a great stage name!) work well together, and their harmonies are key to Frigate’s fresh, exciting sound. Bean even sounds a little like the Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle here and there, but where Carlisle could be a little too sweet at times (especially in her solo stuff), Bean is pure punk rock aggression, Carlisle’s pipes wrapped around Joan Jett’s attitude.
Both Bean and Gillis get solo shots in the spotlight, and while I like Bean’s voice better overall, Gill gets the best “solo” track with the power poppy “My Baby Lied.” Bean more than holds her own on tracks like “The Plum” and “No Idea” — like Tilt’s Cinder Block, when Bean is fronting the band, there’s no question of who’s in charge. When she kicks off “Cantina” (the track that most reminds me of the Go-Go’s) with a shout of “Uno, Dos, Suzi Quatro,” I get chills. The best songs, though, are the ones that Gillis and Bean sing together on, like “Kickball,” “Scurvyann Goes to Town,” and the very Bad Religionesque “No Self Control” and “Ripoff.” And just when you’ve got the band pegged as full-on punk rockers, they show their softer side with the lush, pretty alt-rocker, “Ballad.”
There’s no question that Frigate has talent, and there’s no doubt that Blow Me Down is a really good record. If they haven’t quite reached legendary status yet, I’m certainly not going to hold that against them! I’ll be looking forward to a lot more from this impressive young band.
Spinning Records, 368 Congress St., Studio 3, Boston, MA 02210