The Frenetics - Grey Veins to the Parking Lot (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Frenetics

Grey Veins to the Parking Lot (2004)

Union 2112 (Union Label Group)

The Frenetics continue to impress with Grey Veins to the Parking Lot, the follow up full length to 2001's These Mistakes Took Years of Practice. The Montreal three piece continues to be difficult to categorize. Their sound is a reconstruction of a number of familiar devices and styles, combined and assimilated to create something that stands independent of all of them.

The Union's press has used the term "punk/pop" but that description really needs context to hold up. The well of pop the band's drawing from runs somewhere from 60s mod to early agitated Elvis Costello / Joe Jackson style new wave. It's appealing and catchy but in no way artificial or "safe." In fact the band's heir to a certain brand of nervous energy not unlike many of the late 70s Buzzcocks singles. It's at times similar in feel to some of Ted Leo's work, albeit far darker. Malcolm Bauld's vocals sound much more confident and comfortable than on These Mistakes... and he soars on some of these tracks with more force and conviction than I was expecting. New bassist Alex Seliger really shines on the record. His bass lines brood and bubble as a counter to Bauld's high vocals. In fact the rhythm section, along with drummer Anne Gauthier, sounds absolutely earthshaking on tracks like "If You Are What You Want" and "I Can't Even Say Goodnight."

I'm sure part of the credit goes to producers Andy Magoffin and Marc-Andre Beaudet. Magoffin's share of recordings share the same incredible sense of space he displayed on the first Constantines record and it's follow up EP. To the album's benefit both producers have recorded very organic sounding tracks that perfectly suit the band's style. Winnipeg singer/songwriter Greg MacPherson, with whom The Frenetics share certain spirt, guests on a number of songs, notably "The Bitter Years." Members of Union labelmates The Planet Smashers contribute some very tasteful brass to the epic "Running Up."

This is pensive, deeply rooted and distinctively Canadian indie rock / punk. Grey Veins to the Parking Lot is immensely enjoyable, something that may not yield a hit single but taken as a whole is a record that you can lose yourself in.