It's no secret that Frankmusik, a.k.a. Vincent Frank, has been flirting with some serious column inches of late. And it wouldn't greatly surprise me if, as usual, the final product superseding this pop culture over-hype was a synth-smeared collection of greeting card lyricism, leaving an underwhelming ring in my ears.
Predictably, I'm now going to tell you this album is the opposite. Because it is. Contrary to major label churning of nothing acts, Frank quite blatantly wields a miscellany of talents. His individuality drips from the piece, the man an auteur of synth-pop with each and every tune recorded, produced and written by the cockney romancer himself.
From the outset, the chip-core crackle and serrated production technique of 'In Step' signifies the artist's love affair with electro and 8-bit tones, moulding both into the blueprints of pop song construction effectively. This infatuation spreads throughout 'Better Off As Two' and 'Gotta Boyfriend?' before halting for the bubblegum pop of 'Confusion Girl'. And at this point, truth be told, there are elements of the album that slightly test my resistance to skip.
'Confusion Girl' exchanges Vincent's brash pop hybrid for a chart-straddling approach, unfortunately blending in just a little too much Mika-esque power-pop and taking following track 'Your Boy' and its timid arpeggios down with it. This is not to say that when Vincent ain't squeezing out the fuzzy hooks that I’m going to wince at the variation, though. In fact, he executes swooning heartbreak during 'Done Done' and 'Run Away From Trouble', and delivers his piece with all the relish of a mid-‘80s Ultravox on 'Vacant Heart'.
'When Your Around' (surely that should be 'You're'?) is a bold reinterpretation of 'Golden Brown', and was apparently conceived and produced all via internet, with Frankmusik shouting lyrics at one end and Boys Noize volleying back glitched-up Stranglers melodies. The pairing contrasts with the tones of surrounding album tracks in a complementary manner, a techno respite of meandering staccatos beneath Vincent's vocals which explodes into trance for each chorus.
The real strength of Frankmusik, throughout this LP, is the prolific and clinical manner in which he plucks out stonewall singles. '3 Little Words', 'Better Off As Two' and 'In Step' are all dead-cert flagstones of electro pop craft, but all three are topped by 'Time Will Tell', an epitome of every connotation thrown at the art school dropout's unique sound. It's a mood-shifting marriage of synths and percussion, laid over a fresh bed of beats that, unexpectedly, would not sound lost on a Kool & The Gang record.
They always say you've been writing your first album all your life. As a result, this one is awash with varying influences and sounds, all derived from electro and pop in their foundations but each still quite significantly different from another. There’s just one constant: written memoirs of a past love bleed through every track, producing emotive balladry juxtaposed with an infectious playfulness. Thus, the whole connotes the natures of adolescence, love gained and love lost perfectly.