With a name that suggests a reincarnated, hair slicked group of teddy boys, Sunderland outfit Frankie & the Heartstrings – although clearly opposed to this styling through their alternative facade – do offer an air of 50s revivalists within their twominutesomething bursts of enthusing indie pop. All in abundance at Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe.
‘Photograph’ opened with a typically choral passage; a trait accustomed to some of the entourage’s former employers The Futureheads, the intricate melodies stung. These patterns were a mainstay of their tracks. Frankie Francis’ wild calls answered with tribal chants; brittle mid 00’s guitar; routine feedback led breakdowns; Frankie & the Heartstrings are your archetypal indie group.
The raucous edge that epitomised this genre – the gorilla gigs, the shared sweat, the intoxicated Saturday night encounters – has remained fierce throughout all Frankie & the Heartstrings’ experiences; Francis aloft the onstage amplifiers commanding like a mesmerizing dictator through ‘That Girl, That Scene’ – frenzied, it was littered with an array of stampeding chants and killer off beat grooves.
Where ‘Ungrateful’ resurrected the idyllic indie bliss of battering, scheming solos, ‘Possibilities’ fuelled the intensities of Francis’ quickly muttered vocals. A front-man unwilling to dilute his showmanship, he was the beacon of brutality that the remaining mob attempted to replicate. Thrusting, grooving, jumping; all electrocuting the occasionally muted audience into rounds of chant fuelled bopping.
After the reflective temper of Hull born outfit Affairs – quaking in their front man’s impression of the warped offspring of Simon Le Bon and Ian Curtis, they are a band analogous with Mancunian group The Slow Readers Club – the early 80s temperament of punk energy meets DIY indie formed the spine of the Monday night.
New tracks ‘Decency’ – taken from July’s third album of the same title, it felt like a ‘Capture/Release’ era Rakes track, gritty within its fluctuating guitars, the vocal collages became bright hooks against the vicious grooves – and their self-confessed “new best song” ‘Think Yourself Lucky’ naturally steer the five piece into the familiar realms of festival fields and back into the soundtracks of subterranean alternative haunts that 2011 gave them.
‘Hunger’ is their standalone banger. It brought together everything that characterises Frankie & the Heartstrings. Massive scores of shimmering vocals; slick breaks of feedback drizzling emptiness; jerking, twisting, hip shifting beats; mayhem in Manchester once more. They will never change our world. They will, however, change the make-up of Tuesday mornings forever.
Words by Clive K Hammond