Originally recorded more than 20 years ago, this is a very exciting album to review and I’m very glad it landed on my desk. “Why?” I hear you ask, well these dudes hail from my youth and so the nostalgia is quite high for one and secondly they were always great so hearing how they have developed since the good old days with this reunion album (and tour) is quite a treat.
Fretblanket originally hail from Stourbridge and had their first taste of success when they got themselves into NME and since then they have made progressive moves through the music scene both at home and abroad. This album is both a return to form and something quite new and fresh and if you’re into that late 90s/early noughties, americana, nu-grunge sound then this will be right up your street.
The album is very well put together. The studio sound is clean and crisp, mixed and mastered perfectly. I’ve recently treated myself to a vintage Cambridge Audio amp and this album sounds amazing running through its warm circuits. For the audiophiles out there, this album will not leave you wanting more. On top of that everything about this is cohesive and well thought out. From one song to the next you’re moving through a really nicely laid out garden of sounds. Normally one might say an album takes you on a journey, but in this case a garden is a better analogy as everything is happening around you and you just sort of sit in the middle of it and let it all unfold. Whichever way you turn your head there is something captivating.
Track 1, “Information” leads you in with a good sense of expectation and satisfaction at the same time. The soundscape created is clear, complimenting the musicality of the tune. Following that we have the excellently crafted “Digging Your Scene”, which is a nod towards the Foo Fighters in terms of style, but sounds fresh and bright. Track 3 is my absolute favourite on this album. It starts quite gently, a little bit of funk in the drum flam, happy days and then – BASSLINE!!!! – Oh my fudging gord! What a bassline… the bass and amp this was played on will definitely be going to bass heaven and the bass player can just quit now, he has achieved mastery and will no longer look up to any other bass player. Its simplicity combined with its punch, funk and groove would make Jaco Pastorius say “ok fam, ok!”. Kudos to the engineer for bringing it through the mix like that.
Not that the rest of the band shouldn’t be happy with their work either, the whole album is brilliant and will definitely be going on my rotation at home. The melodic layering of guitars, the slick solos, and the tight vocal makes this a sure fire winner. We reviewed “Stop Wasting My Time” in the last Flam and Flange along with Echo Gecco and we all agreed it was a fantastic tune, but this album is so good we’ll be reviewing more tracks from this in the next episode too.
The album is released on the 30th of March on Bandcamp and is worth every penny of your pounds. Fretblanket will appear at The Lexington, Islington on Wednesday 12th April 2023, then at 45 Live, Kidderminster on Saturday 15th April 2023. Tickets are available via https://fretblanket.uk/ so get to see them if you can because if they sound half as good live as this album does you will be in for a cracking night.
I’m all wrapped up in my Fretblanket now, good to do in these chilly months.
By: Stu McGoo (Flam and Flange)
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