Ah, album number two for The Fratellis, and they're already treading the well-worn path to tedium. Following their rather fine 'Costello Music' debut, the Scots have pulled the wool away from our eyes to reveal that they're really not that great. In other words, they've done a Stereophonics on us.
The parallels between the two bands can't be ignored. For a start, circa their first and second albums, the 'Phonics had a drummer as crazed looking as the Scots' Mince Fratelli (I mean he's called Mince!). Both bands made fine debuts, Kelly Jones showing signs as a gifted lyricist and Jon Fratelli penning some irresistibly catchy, indie-rock gems. It all went wrong for the 'Phonics after that (in terms of quality), and similarly The Fratellis second album sounds formulaic.
You can read a lot into the title - 'Here We Stand'. It's as if The Fratellis are saying', 'this is what we do: raucous bar room rock ever so slightly bluesy and glam; like it or sod off. This is us. Here we...'
And sure, 'Here We Stand' more than has its share of foot-tapping, catchy moments. However, you can't escape the sense that it's an album furiously cobbled together by trying to retrace the sketches of their debut.
We get the same Fratellis tricks here of shifting melodies, major chords, piano jaunts and general backroom-bar beats. If that's your lot then 'Here We Stand' will give you your fill. But there's no escaping how lazy a record it sounds.
Lyrically it's pretty much a sham of a record as Jon Fratelli seemingly furiously looks towards stadiums and festivals, striving to pen tracks which say something without actually saying anything. He may have gone there on 'Costello Music' but he's way off the mark here.
Though there was nothing particularly strong on 'Costello Music', songs like 'Whistle for the Choir' or 'Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night' at last bore some meaning, unlike most of the seemingly nonsensical musings here.
Electing to self-produce was perhaps the group's first mistake. There are lots of layered guitar solos and extended outros that a producer would no doubt have spliced. Over-indulgence perhaps best sums up the record's over-arching feeling.
But let's pull back. It's The Fratellis, and even as the new Stereophonics they'll still please the masses. 'Here We Stand' is a drunk, two-in-the-morning record for the lads. Big sounding, not clever and, devoid of the snappy singles of their debut, it'll still please those on the terraces.