Hailing from Glasgow, the former Fratellis frontman has removed himself from the Brit-punk-pop base, navigated his way through Codeine Velvet Club and landed in the melancholy sweet spot. Jon Fratelli‘s previous album, Psycho Jukebox, is a very obvious middle ground between the madness bop of the Fratellis and his new romantic wailing.
Bright Night Flowers, the much anticipated and long awaited album was originally announced on Twitter in 2012. Its first manifestation came nearly 7 years ago when the album was recorded, mixed and stored in Fratelli’s top drawer solely for his own personal consumption. The album is 9 tracks of mournful sentimentality spanning the genres of country and folk with romantic Americana. In its final form, Bright Night Flowers feels quite raw even with the elaborate and emotional string arrangements Fratelli has conjured.
The album’s lead track “Bright Night Flowers”, is a romance filled, losing love, passing of time kind of song. It creates a sense of twilight like the eternal melancholy felt after love has been lost but the memories still linger. It is a mournful look at lost love and navigating a young relationship and has the ability to step over a precipice into a hue of optimistic depression.
“After A While” sounds like the part of a romantic comedy when the main character remembers all the good times with their chosen love interest and finds themselves running through a crowded airport lobby. Frattelli’s voice is warm and rough like Eddie Vedder’s, with a respectful force. The orchestration is the pit of the stomach stuff and tells as much of the story as the lyrics themselves. Its premise, like the rest of the album, bases itself around the inevitability of endings and despite its somewhat depressing and horribly accurate theme, the ending is an optimistic orchestration that instills hope for the future.
Continuing the album’s continuing circle of life theme, “Rolling By” is a reflection of a past love. Fratelli tells us of his memories of once being the person in a relationship whose love was fleeting and now he is the one who wants the commitment. In some ways, it is like a grown-up version of Bright Night Flowers. It is a magical musical manifestation of regret.
The penultimate track, “In From The Cold”, is a story of understanding and the ultimate goal in any relationship, for someone to see you as who you are. With frank lyrics and sweet strings softening the blow of his loving and sensitive growl, one could be forgiven for likening his voice to a wailing Tom Waits with a hint Bruce Springsteen. With its musical repetition, it is a hymn of classical rock proportions.
Bright Night Flowers is an album of ending and beginnings. It is a mix of Americana and bittersweet romantic comedy orchestration. Slightly cliched lyrics and repetitious vocals threaten to make this album monotonous but the beautifully crafted orchestrations save it. It is a musical monochrome of an everlasting sunset.