There’s a huge difference between youthful energy and just plain immaturity. It’s not clear exactly where the chasm lies, but most seem to agree that hate firmly belongs on the latter side. On their debut album, Audio & Murder, the Frantic start by clinging to the positive side and slowly begin to climb their way up it only to make a major misstep and fall down...hard.
Audio & Murder starts out with real potential. The first half is filled with immediate pop-punk that flies along at a thumb-snapping pace. Choruses and “Whooooaaaaaa!”s abound, and there is no real depth; it’s excusable because the rhythms are darn catchy. While most of the songs aren’t groundbreaking in style, the Frantic picks a classic sound and sticks to it. Most of the topics deal with girls and rock and roll -- but when you’re sixteen, as are the members of the band, these topics do constitute the majority of your mental processes. Actually, there is even a song about how a car can be preferable to a girl. But hey, if Brian May can do it, why can’t these guys?
In fact, the group salutes rock 'n’ roll so much, a few of the songs pay homage to `50s doo-wop rock by way of the Ramones. While they don’t cover classics like the Ramones did, they “arrow” the sounds of these post-war 45’s and adapt a good time rocking vibe throughout the album. There are even a few daring instrument selections. For instance, on “Movin’ Along” the boys adopt a slide guitar into the song and weave a curiously drawn line between `80s pop-punk and `80s commercial country.
However, just when it seems like the Frantic may be off to a good start, cementing their sound and even playing with a few under-appreciated instruments, the boys loosen their grasp and pretty much throw away everything they’ve worked for on the song “Heifer.” With the lyrics “Your waist is a waste of space / my ass looks like your face / you are a fat fuckin’ heifer / you are a fat fuckin’ heifer / you fat piece of shit!” It’s unclear if these guys are targeting a specific person (maybe a former manager that wronged them?) but in almost all interpretations the song seems to do nothing but insult fat people in general. Someone needs to tell the Frantic that no one is sure what punk really is about, but it’s definitely NOT about judging people because of their appearance. If the point of this song was to attack a specific person and merely uses fatness as a venue, then they sure did a poor job of making this clear (and this alternative might be just as bad as a face reading anyways). With a gang chorus chanting the refrain, the only thing separating this from a school yard posse surrounding the fat kid is overproduction.
Maybe when the Frantic grows up a little they’ll be able to hold onto their rhythm writing abilities, craft a meaningful song, and finally leave the playground.