Is punk dead yet? Listening to Frauds’ latest release With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice, there’s still some punk defiance out there that will not give up the ghost just yet.
A cacophony from start to finish, this 8-track haul from Londoners Frauds sounds a bit like someone going through a midlife crisis. It attempts to be nuanced, tongue-in-cheek and idiosyncratic, but ultimately it’s an irritating and bizarre mess. I’m considerably more stressed having listened to this.
Let’s Find Out, doesn’t start the album well but you understand what you’re in for – and I suspect many people will make up their minds quickly to bail at this point. Then again, what did you expect from an album called With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice, which features rotten toast dipped in orange juice as it’s artwork? Odd.
It’s main riff drags on for a minute until we first hear some vocals from Chris Franscombe and Mike Alvarez – who also perform drums and guitar respectfully. What we’re greeted with is like a rambling drunk man getting angrier as the song progresses. We never get the drums the song needs and it glitches out to a finish. Second-up Smooth is perhaps a little more glum in places, but isn’t as the title suggests. Rough and patchy, it’s got a traditional punk gravity and a super irritating vocal hook in it. You can check it out below:
Sandwich is a strange song of two halves: unsettlingly piercing in the former half, unsettlingly mellow in the latter. These halves don’t work together at all but it’s thematic of the running album concepts of combining two unlikely flavours – as the artwork alludes to. Kudos, I guess.
Just Come of Age sounds as it suggests: villainous and cynical. When in full swing, there’s a dark punk vibe which works well with the darker lyrical themes. With a dose of lunacy and probably some conspiracy theories, it’s the pick of the bunch – plus, it’s abrupt ending works really well.
Suck Jobs is one of the few songs that seems to have what resembles a chorus, not just an open-ended disassembly of guitar, drums and wounded shrieks and shrills. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve is a sore listen. If you can persevere past the lumbering guitar riff, it’s got an alright vocal hook and general edginess to it which you can get behind.
Several tracks seem to serve as pure track fodder: The Feeding Frenzy and Doom for the most part make little contribution to the overall album. What connective music is here doesn’t stick around for long, they are mostly padded out with slow guitar parts that drag and drain the album horribly.
The significance of final track Give In is anybody’s guess – although there must be some. It’s builds to a crescendo around the midway mark with a repeating riff being crushed under cymbals, ambient noise and other synthetic effects before cutting off suddenly. Whether this is purposeful is genuinely a mystery to me as it sounds more like an uploading fault than producing intent, the build doesn’t lead cleanly into it. Presumably, it’s public so it must be intentional, especially as the song resumes around the 7 minute mark – about 2 minutes of silence later – for a trivial 30 second outburst. My thoughts are that it’s some pointless hidden excerpt. Why is it here? Confusing and not well executed.
With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice is an enigma, one which clearly wants to stimulate and engage in discourse within its discordant manner – but probably stifles it in reality. Audiences will not be spoon fed, they will have to actively apply themselves to enjoy this record. Fleeting palatable and memorable moments are strewn across the album sporadically and it makes the listen deeply uncomfortable. There’s some real outside-the-box thinking going on here by Frauds, but it’s just a bit too nauseating: [2/10]