Frankie & the Heartstrings

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Decency Review

by Matt Collar

Sometimes a band can be so enamored of a specific sound that, despite their brilliant execution, it can become a bit predictable. So it's refreshing to see a band like Britain's Frankie & the Heartstrings bravely transform their sound, as they do on their third full-length effort, 2015's Decency. Produced by Hookworms frontman MJ, this album finds the previously post-punk devotees exploring a punchy Motown soul vibe. Up until now, the group's sound revolved around lead singer Frankie Francis' yearning brand of dance-friendly rock. Here, we get the driving rhythms and full horn section of a '60s hit by the Four Tops. Specifically, songs like "Think Yourself Lucky" and bright-eyed "Money," call to mind not just classic soul, but even ska-laced blue-eyed-soul acts like Squeeze and Dexy's Midnight Runners. Decency is the first recording the Heartstrings have made since replacing guitarist Mick Ross with Futureheads guitarist Ross Millard. It's also the band's first album since bringing This Ain't Vegas bassist Michael Matthews on board to replace the outgoing Steven Dennis. Even with these changes, the sound of Frankie & the Heartstrings remains distinct. Despite the innovative move toward Motown soul, the band remain indebted as ever to the propulsive new wave jangle-pop of Scotland's Orange Juice. Additionally, tracks like "Hate Me Like You Use To" and "Just Not in Love" find the band exploring an increasingly dark and more sophisticated vibe, an aspect that's brilliantly highlighted by the disc's otherwise bright and energetic disposition. The sound on Decency is truly an adventurous move for the group, and one that's paid off with possibly their best album to date.

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