Last autumn I went to the first Loud Women Festival in London not really knowing what to expect. What I got was a day of great music! One of the stand out bands that day, and I hadn’t previously heard of them, were The Franklys. They came on early evening (I think- I was a bit time warped by then) and were outstanding; mesmeric, energetic, playing a kind of danceable garage rock. When I got home I checked them out online and turned out they had played Download Festival earlier that year! The Franklys, comprised of Jennifer Ahlkvist, Fanny Broberg, Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark, had a single ‘Castaway’ out later in the year and I went along with my partner to the single launch-another excellent performance of songs that have been described variously as ‘classic old school rock’, ‘fun filled garage rock with a pop twist’ and ‘a noisy garage rock buzzsaw’! (1)
I got home and played ‘Castaway’ a few times but I felt it didn’t quite do them justice, it’s good but I was pretty sure that it wasn’t an accurate reflection of their quality,they were/are much better than it indicated. So I was quite intrigued to hear their album Are You Listening?. Was I right or wrong? Was my memory or ‘Castaway’ more accurate?!...
Are You Listening? is superb!! It starts off with the aforementioned ‘Castaway’ which now recontextualised is a good, straightforward rock track elevated by superb guitar work, in fact one of the exciting features throughout this album is Fanny Broberg’s lead guitar! But from here the album just keeps getting better!
Complex, catchy, energetic, nimble rock that, yeah, fulfills some of the criteria for being ‘classic old school rock’ but is far too light on its feet to be compared to the more lumpen bands that term can conjure up. The Franklys might cite Led Zeppelin as an influence but their music is much more agile, much more interesting.
Lyrically it explores relational themes but often in an metaphoric, poetic way. Take for instance ‘Imaginarium’
“I’m in a tropical storm,
Watching the world deform,
I’m imagining you, I’m imagining me,
I’m imagining a future that we’re yet to see,
I’m chewing almonds by the bed,
Part of me’s longing to be dead,
Cos I can’t remember the last time that we laughed.”
Their songs deal with relationships, growth and development, war and democracy (I think, or is it metaphoric like ‘Total War’ by Comsat Angels?), in short they explore the darker side of the human condition.
On this album Jennifer Ahikvist proves herself to be a very sophisticated vocalist, able to emote without ever being melodramatic, Fanny Broberg excels on lead guitar, live she is amazing (including visually), and here too her playing is awesome! And having seen them live, and now heard this, there is no doubt that Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark are a tight, creative, equally talented rhythm section.
Stand out songs for me at the moment are ‘Keeper’, ‘Don’t Kill Your Friends’ and ‘Imaginarium’ but the whole album is overflowing with talent, craft, energy and danceable, catchy rock.
The Franklys have successfully captured the excitement and energy of their live performances on this release and if you like rock in any of its various forms then you should check this out.
File under ‘Excellent!’