I’m not a Libertines expert by any stretch of the imagination, so I won’t sit here and try to list all of the similarities between songs like the Fratellis’ wistful “Whistle For The Choir” (which, by the way, comes complete with—guess what?—a whistle solo!) and “What Katie Did.” And never mind The Clash. Without these bands, The Fratellis wouldn’t exist. But it doesn’t matter, because Costello Music isn’t an album to be mulled over or contemplated for very long. As one band member quips at the end of “The Gutterati?”: “I hate yer fuckin’ lyrics.” The songs are incredibly catchy but also tediously misogynistic, which shouldn’t come as a surprise—the cover art, after all, sports an illustration of three scantily clad burlesque ladies (one of which looks a lot like Scarlett Johansson) taking shots, smoking, and happily playing the band’s records. The reggae-infused “Henrietta” and “Chelsea Dagger,” already hits in The Fratellis’ native UK, tell the tales of a suga-mama groupie and a probable transvestite, respectively. And those are the innocuous ones. Luckily, Costello Music is chock-full of songs with instantly memorable but thankfully wordless hooks, like “For The Girl” and “Creepin’ Up The Backstairs.” These are songs that sound like songs you’ve heard before, either because you have—the swinging, hand-clappy “Flathead,” officially the first single of ‘07 that has caught my ear (and it’s already March), is featured in a current iTunes commercial—or because they sound like songs by about 15 other Britpop acts. It’s one thing to copy a look, a sound, or a formula, but it’s another to do it so utterly convincingly and with such infectious raucousness. Splenda may be derivative, but it sure is tasty—even if it leaves a bad aftertaste.
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