UK singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist To Be Frank has been busy over the last 18 months with three EP releases and a handful of singles, not to mention being featured on a compilation CD for Gilles Petersons’ Brownswood Bubblers and the new New Faces 2 compiled by Kitsune; with everything going on, he’s still found the time to work on and complete his debut album, U, recorded entirely in the Suffolk woods featuring new tracks as well as key tracks from previous releases. To be frank with you, U already sounds exciting.
Lead single Let It Go kicks off the record with airy synths playing from ear to ear, which was soon followed by Frank’s Chris Martin-esque vocal and in-depth atmosphere, its ambience is captivating; the minimalistic arrangement of If You Love Her allows you to take in every lyric and every heartfelt note, something that is often missing in music released by electronic producers, it’s the indie producers that manage to relate to you wholly. Broken is driven subtly by its beat and lulling melody, the slow tracks on U manage to grab you as much as the busier tracks; there is a lot going on with Boxes, but not too much, all the pops and snaps combined with the familiar vocals and piano make it all the more memorable. There hasn’t been the most versatility experienced on this album so far, each track seems to follow the same experimental formula, Play is no exception to that rule but perhaps it’s all a part of being within the same project; Gleam is a great instrumental piece, but it doesn’t make a different stand either.
Show Me The Way sees the vocal almost take the backseat in the verses, before ripping into the chorus, and we finally hear something a little different to what we’ve heard already; it’s like the second half of this album is prepping us for a slightly heavier concept, not in terms of lyrical or vocal content but more in atmosphere, Half The Man has this depth that is so far unmatched. Give It Up doesn’t manage to capture your attention like most of its predecessors, it is a slowish track but for some reason it seems to drag after a short while, the falsetto vocal is a little worn and torn by now; there’s something almost soulful about Never, you can definitely picture this track in a mainstream setting, but even with its snappy and edgy arrangement now it’s fun. The synths in Nothing are intriguing, and its seemingly off drum beat also seems to work, sounds like something Foxtel/Cable networks would pick up for their menu’s background music; lastly, Home delivers Frank’s unique experimental sound to our ears one last time with no regrets.
To Be Frank is steadily but surely establishing himself as one of indie/experimental’s most unique producers, and his debut album U best showcases his already known talent and knack for putting together a decent atmospheric tune. The only quarrel with this record that you’ll find is that the songs in the first half are almost too closely stitched, there wasn’t a lot of versatility, but forgiveness can be found because you’ll still enjoy them regardless; at times Frank’s voice grew tiring, also because it didn’t change a heck of a lot, but perhaps it’d be too different if he experimented further with his pipes? It’s up to you to decide what you think of U, but to be frank once again, it demonstrates a clear love and understanding that To Be Frank has for this genre of music and it makes his abilities shine; his fans who helped crowd fun his project on PledgeMusic will be pleased with the outcome.