The exciting Bristol quartet Franklin Mint return with their new album, Bristle, the follow-up to 2018’s Scrage, which I reviewed for TPA. Their blend of rock and punk with progressive leanings continues, alongside their at times upfront, in-your-face presentation. They appear to have continued their development, ultimately increasing the enjoyment level.
The band’s humorous descriptions continue, following the one given for the last album. This one is described thus: “Lavish, limited-edition and hand-crafted rock that you and your children’s children will want to cherish for generations to come”. Now this statement is interesting as before I discovered it I had recommended the album to my 17-year-old grandson, so some great foresight there guys!
The album, mixed with Jim Barr with the mastering completed by James Plotkin, consists of thirteen tracks ranging from two-and-a-half to over five minutes, with a total running time of just under sixty minutes. This appears just right as the energy and excitement created make the time pass quickly.
The opening track, Split, begins with a windswept sound before the band crash in, driven along by the rhythm section and intercut with slightly gentler interludes. It certainly grabs your attention. Crabapple follows, a full-on punk-tinged rock assault containing some great bass work alongside cutting guitar breaks, reminiscent of classic NoMeansNo (NMN), I say this as a very positive comment. Nick’s vocal delivery is similar to NMN’s Rob Wright in its attack and clarity, making the lyrics an integral part of the whole. Heavy Alchemy is pretty much that, as it drifts into heavier territory with a solid rock sound, but retaining the unique essence of Franklin Mint.
This variety and blending of styles continues throughout the following tracks, there is no dip in the energy levels created, and this in turn helps to keep up the interest and enjoyment level throughout. Add to this the breadth of catchy sounds and some great lyrics and Franklin Mint appear to have found a winning formula. Let us take Half a Zip, the lyric of which tackles what can been seen on the pavement, including the incomplete fastening of the title, accompanied by a halting, punky attack. At around two minutes we get the spoken delivery in the style of Viv Stanshall: “Hey kids have you ever thought of starting a band?”, followed by a punky rock rush to the end.
The energetic and angry attack of Meat Raffle follows, musically and vocally putting over the aggressive feel so well. Monstrous Abominations goes into heavier rock territory, with lyrics looking at night and life terrors, the punk-like edge remaining. Kick Me is a curve ball, the track starting as keyboard led, but this is soon smashed aside by some fine guitar, the rhythm section driving things along at an exciting pace, with the keys trying to re-establish themselves throughout.
There is so much to enjoy in this album, both musically and vocally, demonstrating that Franklin Mint are continuing to evolve their sound with tracks that will sit very well in their live experience. If you like your music up-front and exciting this may be the band for you.
01. Split (4:58)
02. Crabapple (3:55)
03. Heavy Alchemy (3:34)
04. Pin Drop (4:12)
05. Half a Zip (2:49)
06. The Pit or the Pendulum (4:21)
07. Meat Raffle (5:33)
08. Greta’s Sweater (4:55)
09. Monstrous Abominations (5:16)
10. Kick Me (4:52)
11. Wonk (4:36)
12. X (5:53)
13. Umbilicus (4:40)
Total Time – 59:38
Nick Law – Vocals
Al Ross – Guitar, Keyboards
Mark Toghill – Bass
Andrew Marshall – Drums
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd April 2021