English indie pop act Frankie & the Heartstrings warmed some cold nights with their 2011 debut, Hunger. They got away with some of their blatant Orange Juice worship on that by merit of it being produced by Edwyn Collins, and in the long run, their updated look at classic '80s and '90s indie as more their own sound than overzealous influence-mining. With second album The Days Run Away, Frankie and company are joined by Suede guitarist and producer Bernard Butler for a set of 12 guitar-heavy indie pop janglers that marry '80s hooks with bright-eyed and hopeful melodicism. Butler's influence is heard immediately on tracks like "Nothing Our Way" and "Everybody Looks Better (In the Right Light)," both of which marry the pushing rhythms of glam with the wistful, swaggering pop mastery of Brit-pop bands like Pulp, Blur, and of course Suede. Elsewhere, a heavy Smiths influence can be detected, as with the twinkling guitars of "Right Noises," but moreover we're treated to the influence of all the bands the Smiths so directly influenced. That is to say, the spare rhythms of "I Still Follow You" sounds like the Strokes circa their first album dipping into a bag of Johnny Marr jangle and "She Will Say Goodbye" has the same second-generation dour pop feel of mid-'90s Smiths appreciators like Gene and Menswear. A few missteps keep The Days Run Away from ever completely congealing. The monotonously slow "Losing a Friend" drags the album into a stupor with a two-chord bumble that would make Galaxie 500 feel a little on edge and while "That Girl, That Scene" aims for the oversexed teenage energy of the Undertones, the Only Ones, or the Ramones, its hooks are a little too muted to completely convey the proper summery mindset of those classic bands. While these few songs threaten to derail the album, the rest of the set is more unified, offering an understated but brilliant celebration of both Frankie & the Heartstrings' unique songwriting and their catalog of classic pop influences.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas