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Reviewed by Mike Farley
Who knows, maybe the songs on this latest album were in the can when Costello Music came out. If that’s the case, it explains why this batch of 11 songs is subpar. Or it could just mean the band is tired and going through the motions. The Fratellis know how to write melodies that stick in your head, but there is something about Here We Stand that just doesn’t connect.
The album kicks off with “My Friend John,” and this, along with “Mistress Mable,” is one of two tracks that stand up to previous work. But then there is a noticeable drop-off with “A Heady Tale” and “Shameless,” which come across like rocked-up drinking tunes. “Stragglers Moon” has nice minor key, Beatles-meets-psychedelia melodies, but this isn’t what we’ve come to expect from the Fratellis. And “Tell Me a Lie” and “Acid Jazz Singer” are nice anthems, but they lack cohesiveness. Finally, there’s “Milk and Money,” a more subdued piano-driven song that offers a glimpse into how much potential this band really has.
This is what happens when you release something that critics and fans go crazy over -- the follow-up is almost bound to disappoint. That’s not saying Here We Stand is bad. The Fratellis are talented and have the craft of songwriting nailed down, maybe to a fault. It’s just that if you come to the table expecting a steak, and instead have to settle for a good burger, you’re going to be satisfied -- but just a bit let down.