Jon Fratelli - Psycho Jukebox
Derivative debut solo album material ranges from so-so to turgid
Among those of us who are – let’s be entirely frank here – not utter Neds, Jon ‘Fratelli’ Lawler is deep in the red in the credibility stakes, such is his culpability for the ubiquitous ‘da-dah-dah-da’ nightmare that was ‘Chelsea Dagger’. His debut solo album – which arrives on mercifully defunct pub-rockers The Fratellis’ former home Island – confirms the fairly obvious fact that it was he and not the two plumber-alikes at the back that was the talent in that trio, though it’s unlikely to see the curly-mopped Glaswegian achieve a volte-face in many peoples’ affections.
Psycho Jukebox predictably enough finds Lawler comfortable to imitate without ever innovating, with a set of plugged-in heritage rock-indebted material ranging in quality from so-so to turgid. Kinks-y garage thrum ‘Daddy Won’t Pay Your Bill’ is as good as things get; 'Santa Domingo' is the record’s nadir – an lunk-headed R&B stramash with rhyming-couplets (sample: ‘play chopsticks on my guitar/drive backwards in your one-wheeled car’) nonsensical enough to make Noel Gallagher sound like WH Auden.
He homages affectionately and convincingly – ‘The Band Played Just For Me’ channels early Springsteen; ‘Oh Shangri La’ is a Slade-style slice of 70s glam-stomping. You could imagine Lawler making a better sideman/ producer than a band leader (why he didn’t persevere with the Lou Hickey-fronted Codeine Velvet Club isn’t clear), because he can arrange a song well and evidently knows his way around a studio. But as things stand, his debts to the ears of people who don’t class stripping to the waist and chucking lager around as time well spent remain largely unpaid.