Frausdots’ Brent Rademaker is a seasoned indie rock veteran. He started out in fuzzy pop group Further before transitioning to the jangliness of Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde. And judging by his history, one would assume that Frausdots follows in his tradition of good old-fashioned American indie rock. Well, not exactly. Though Frausdots are, technically, American, had I heard them without any prior knowledge of all parties in the band, I would have guessed they were British. Or, maybe Australian.
On Frausdots’ debut album, Couture, Couture, Couture, Rademaker and co-songwriter Michelle Loiselle have taken a page from the book of Robert Smith and made a catchy, occasionally gloomy album of chorus-heavy Britpop. But notice that I also suggested Australian influences, as well, most likely the cause of repeated listenings to The Church’s Starfish. Rademaker’s voice even seems to mimic the intonations of said band’s Steve Kilbey, in all its detached-but-benevolent coolness.
With all that out of the way, Frausdots are more than just the product of their influences. There are hints of new wave and British post-punk on Couture, Couture, Couture, there’s no questioning that. But without the aid of good songwriting, the songs wouldn’t have much to stand on. Thankfully, Rademaker has experience slapping verses and choruses together and succeeds in turning the album into something more than a mere tribute act. Opener “Dead Wrong” is a strong anthemic beginning to the album, combining washes of effects-laden guitar and a catchy chorus of “Now, everybody’s doing everybody wrong.” Following track, and a potential hit maker for the band, “Fashion Death Trends” is the shortest song on the album, but also the catchiest, further reinforcing the old adage that brevity really is the soul of wit. Here, Rademaker’s voice sounds most like Steve Kilbey’s, while the melody sounds most like a Cure tune. But the combination of the two seems to cancel each other out, leaving a strong, fun original.
“A Go-See” teases the listener with some scratchy garage riffs, but soon leaps into action, returning the soaring melodies and new wave nods. The group uses an organ to similar effect on “Current Bedding,” revealing an Echo and the Bunnymen influence in addition to the other heroes referenced. “Tomorrow’s Sky,” however, is possibly the strongest track on the album, mixing Wish-era Cure with heavy synth washes and a driving melody, ending the album as strong as it begins.
Frausdots certainly display a wide range of influences, particularly those from the ’80s, but having tried his hand at writing songs for so many other bands, Rademaker has picked up a few tricks in making old-sounding music seem new again. Couture, Couture, Couture may seem fun and kitschy at first, but after a few listens, it becomes clear that Rademaker and Loiselle are gifted songsmiths on their own, with or without the aid of their high school record collection.
The Cure – Wish
The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
The Church – Starfish
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.