Frausdots – Couture, Couture, Couture
Sub Pop Records (2004)
By Aaron Burkhalter
We’ve all said it, “I liked them better when they were called…” But the never-ending cycle of musical “what-goes-around-comes-around” is inevitable. As the Rolling Stones sounded like Mississippi John Hurt, and Modest Mouse sounded like The Pixies, the current flux of bands will sound like the next resurgence of an older style.
And into my lap falls Couture, Couture, Couture by Sub Pop newbies Frausdots, an album that pulls from the late 70’s and early 80’s new wave, with a modern twist of that familiar but enigmatic indie sound.
The demon who sits on my left shoulder tells me to rip it apart, citing the offensive lifts from the likes of New Order and early Elvis Costello. The dude on my other shoulder (no longer an angel; he got fired failing me and now hangs around with nothing better to do) says “Hell, I’m with the demon this time.”
But quickly I find myself back in the obnoxious old cycle of “I liked them better when they were called…” I sat on this music for far too long, unable to figure out what I liked or didn’t, when it hit me. I didn’t like them better when they were called whatever they were called.
I’m sure this is how a lot of critics felt when Belle and Sebastian hit the scene years back. Who needs yet another band influenced by Nick Drake? Is Elliott Smith even viable juxtaposed against the Beatles? The difference between these bands and the Frausdots is a matter of taste. I like the psychedelic sound of the late 60’s, so when a band emulates that sound, I’m primed to dig it. Is it any wonder then that I like The Beachwood Sparks, featuring several of the same members as the Frausdots, when they make shameless references to Love? The Frausdots are doing little more for new wave than what their predecessors The Beachwood Sparks did for psychedelia.
The music is catchy, with a danceable driving beat a la The Edge and an early 80’s guitar, but it’s still entirely forgettable. The lyrics are trite at best but also forgettable, fortunately. Frausdots create a sound that escapes my brain as soon as the album ends, leaving little to report to my many adoring Nada fans. The album is entirely inoffensive with little to criticize, but equally little to praise.
So what’s my beef? The new wave never really appealed to me so the Frausdots are unfairly damned from the outset. I don’t want to discourage anyone else from this music, but I’m more biased towards the music that sounds like Pet Sounds or Forever Changes than music influenced by the later trends. If the electronic new wave is your thing, then the Frausdots probably are too. Me, I’ll sit back and wait for the next cycle of trends to pop up. – (6/10)