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Frankmusik's Complete Me seems to have split opinion pretty squarely down the middle. Some are hailing this debut album as an electro-pop masterpiece, while others are proclaiming it a conveyer-belt karaoke album, devoid of talent. Somewhat controversially, I'm going to come down somewhere in the middle.
Certainly those accusations of talentlessness seem a little unfair: Frank is a writer, producer and talented self-taught pianist, and many of the complaints seem to be coming from self-conscious indie hipsters. Complaints about lyrical quality may be valid, but it's no worse than the majority of chart hits and better than many.
Production-wise this sits firmly in the bleepy realm of Simian Mobile Disco and Van She, with relatively simple musical motifs overlayed to create a more complicated layered effect. There seems to be an awful lot of production on Frank's voice in many of the songs, but it doesn't detract from the quality of his soaring falsetto, and doubts over the underlying quality of his voice are easily allayed by viewing the live video tracks on his website.
Unfortunately there's a genuine split in the quality of the songs. A couple Frankmusik's earlier tracks - When You're Around, Done Done, Time Will Tell and In Step - are present and correct, and are some of the most original in terms of production on the album. Better Off As Two is a great track, catchy and danceable. Three Little Words, on the other hand, receives a remix which robs it of its impetus, making it glossier and more radio-friendly but far less interesting. Previously my favourite Frankmusik track, the album version makes me glad that the original EPs are still available from iTunes.
When You're Around is, for me, the most difficult track to judge. Listening to it seems to create an argument between the half of my brain which loves it fast-paced beats and staccato, saw-blade production and the half of my brain that wants to cry at the electro-pop desecration of The Strangler's classic Golden Brown. This exchanges the underlying menace of the original for a frenetic club vibe, and enough is done to the samples to appease me that this isn't just an uninspired rip-off.
But this is an album heavily inspired by the eighties. Time Will Tell includes some genuinely cringe-inducing samples, while Vacant Heart is not so much influenced by eighties music as a direct copy of it, the kind of song that would make you change the channel if it came up on Top Of The Pops 2.
And some of those lyrical problems are really quite annoying. Rhyming "girl" with "world" is as cliched as they come, while Wonder Woman - a track which I suspect is supposed to show how sensitive Mr Frank is to the female condition - merely comes off as patronising. Former single Confusion Girl is twee in both lyrics and music, and album closer Run Away From Trouble takes almost three minutes to become interesting - which is a problem when your song is four minutes and nineteen seconds long - while Complete Me and Your Boy are overwrought, melodramatic ballads, the latter of which recalls the whiny histrionics of Daniel Beddingfield.
My real problem here is that the good tracks - Three Little Words, Done Done, In Step, Better Off As 2, When You're Around - were already released either as singles or B-sides. Confusion Girl was a single, and even Your Boy and Run Away from trouble were previously released as B-sides. In terms of new tracks for the album, that leaves a mere four songs, none of which are that good.
I will admit to be slightly disappointed with the album, but that's more due to my own presumptions than any deficit on Frank's part. On the strength of the early singles I was expected something a little, well, cooler than this, something that maintained their unusual production values. In the end, it seems that Frankmusik was aiming to create an album of catchy pop, and that's exactly what he's done - no more and no less.
I first came across the track '3 Little Words' last October and was introduced to Frankmusik. Months later and he was named as one of the freshest new talents to emerge in 2009 alongside the likes of La Roux, Florence & The Machine and Lady Gaga.
Frankmusik [real name Vincent Frank] has been around in the music industry for a few years remixing tracks for the likes of Keane, Alphabeat and the Pet Shop Boys. He's recently been working on comeback material for washed up Neighbours star Holly Valance and has had a fairly mixed start to his pop career so far though only looks set to grow stronger with the recent release of his debut album 'Complete Me'.
Frankmusik has a style of singing similar to Mika, an artist who immediately springs to mind when I listen to this album. However with his odd haircut and rather eccentric appearance and attitude towards music, Frank isn't trying to sound like a Freddie Mercury tribute act and there's a lot more emphasis on the music here which lends itself to very modernised beats and effects but with a very heavy 80s influence present on a number of songs.
'In Step' starts off with an incredible, funky beat that sounds like something from a children's video game, complete with strange helium esque harmonies. Frank's vocals are often modified to fit in with the rather futuristic and odd direction from the music. 'In Step' flows perfectly with the music definitely being the driving force and its catchy hook and chorus.
'Better Off As Two' is one of the less polished tracks on the album. It has a very simple melody and Frank's vocals sound a lot stronger and consistant here. It's a lot more relaxed than other tracks here but the chorus just thuds into your head and wraps itself around you. Definitely one of the record's highlights.
'Gotta Boyfriend' is a rather dull song, plodding along against a very repetitive and unimaginative beat. The lyrics just don't really connect with me but if there was ever a track on the albm to sound like a memoir to the 80s, the very dated beat and vibe of the entire song lends itself to the decade.
'Confusion Girl' is the current single and probably the most well known song from the album. It's amazingly catchy and sounds perfect to bring some sunshine into your life. Pulling it apart leaves yet another average beat and half shaped vocals but its the production and the way it all flows together that will guarentee you'll be singing it all day whether you like it or not.
'Your Boy' ditches the fast paced and dance orientated theme of the album for a piano led number. It works very well with Frank's vocals shining through a lot stronger than on other tracks where his voice is distorted. 'When You're Around' sounds like a club smash in the making. The verses are very lifeless and wooden but when the chorus kicks in, there's echoes and twirling and just an infectious beat that compels you to keep you listening.
I was very disappointed with '3 Little Words' though. I loved the demo version but for the album, the song has been remixed and has had lyrical changes, most notably in the chorus. It just didn't work for me in the same way as I felt it had lost that magic punch that made it so brilliant to begin with. It's now relegated to a boring, mid-album filler with a slow, flat chorus and even flatter vocals. It's as if changing its structure and production has drained the spark out of it.
My dismay at the album continued with the horrifically cheesy 'Wonder Woman'. Whilst the music and production are listenable enough, I can't deal with the cringe-worthy lyrics.
'Complete Me' on the other hand restores my faith in Frankmusik. He begins the song with just a piano and a very delicate and beautiful vocal that soon grows into a thundering and explosive chorus. It's the most emotional song on an album crammed with hits that are dedicated to making you bounce, whilst 'Vacant Heart' sounds oddly like 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' by Starship though the middle 8 section reminds me more of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' by Whitney Houston. It's just a flawless piece of music that captures the 80's style and meshes it with an amazing modernised beat and Frank's distant vocals. My favourite track by far.
There's definitely hints of Mika & Calvin Harris scattered throughout 'Complete Me', but Frankmusik has managed to slide into a group where there isn't a lot of competition and create his own unique and rather entrancing style of music. This record does sound rather samey in places and there a number of dull tracks. Some songs which sounded better as demo versions have been ruined when added to the record but you can't deny the talent Frankmusik has, more so for writing and production than say his vocal abilities. All this considered the best way I can describe 'Complete Me', is that it's an album that makes you feel like you've had too many E-numbers and consists of a mixture of genius and rather odd and boring material but if it's a nice, fun, happy record you're after to keep the continuous rainfall at bay, then this is definitely the album for you.
2.Better Off As Two
6.When You're Around
7.3 Little Words
11.Time Will Tell
13.Run Away From Trouble
And here's a video to check out clips of the album :D [Quality is average sadly!]
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 In Step
2 Better Off As 2
3 Gotta Boyfriend?
4 Confusion Girl
5 Your Boy
6 When You're Around
7 3 Little Words
8 Wonder Woman
9 Complete Me
10 Vacant Heart
11 Time Will Tell
12 Done Done
13 Run Away From Trouble
14 Olivia (Hidden Track)
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Complete Me - Frankmusik 60 Minute Remix