You can usually tell when a band is due to be picked up by the hype train, particularly at this time of the year when everyone’s looking to collate their tips for the next twelve months, and the vast majority of self-proclaimed tastemakers snaffling up the trendiest names guaranteed to make some waves. With that in mind, it’s a surprise that Frauds haven’t gained more ground in that regard, and while there’s definitely buzz to an extent around this duo (tours with Jamie Lenman and featuring on The Independent will do that), given a sound that’s easily comparable to both Slaves and The Amazing Snakeheads, two acts who’ve been showered in varying degrees of acclaim, it’s really only a matter of time before something clicks and Frauds become the newest critical darlings to add to the list.
And honestly, this is a band who’d be deserving of it too, as debut album With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice shows. Compared to the severely diminished returns of Slaves and the imploding shitstorm of The Amazing Snakeheads, Frauds manage to capture both a ragged simplicity and darker post-punk vibe, but are actually able to ride with it and embrace it for something a lot better. For one, there’s actual snark rather than simply shouting in a thick accent, and it lends tracks like Just Come Of Age and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve the bile they’re quite clearly seeking, but also the sense of playfulness and comedic timing of a band with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Of course, this all remains grounded in a bitter distaste and dissatisfaction with all branches of modern society, from one where empathy and understanding is essentially a foreign commodity on Sandwiches, to the regressive, debauched tradition of stag and hen parties on Suck Jobs, and through a near-constant use of novel, almost luridly seedy imagery, there’s the sense that the gutter that Frauds are telling these stories from is all too close to home.
It’s a similar case with the instrumentation, and while the jerky lurch of Let’s Find Out isn’t exactly the strongest start, one of Frauds’ biggest strengths comes in their ability to create a darker, grimier sound than many other lo-fi duos. The echoes of an overly-simplified Slaves impression aren’t immune from ringing out (again, see Let’s Find Out for a track that’s crying out for a bit more to do beyond a rattling, almost demo-quality guitar), but with the feedback-sodden post-punk miasma of Doom or the leering, drooling creep of Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve, this is an album looking to tap into a primal sense of modern, physical dread that Frauds capture so effectively. Compared to how so many other duos currently use a lo-fi setup as a means of trendy adherence, Frauds’ feels so much more necessary, for the most part capturing the dirty, grim nature of these situations without glossing them over.
And of course, that’ll likely be what puts some off, as a knee-jerk following a similar approach from Slaves that felt a lot more calculated and insincere. But between lyrics with teeth and instrumentation that gets there more often than it doesn’t, Frauds are easily a cut above right out of the gate. As of now, it mightn’t be perfect, and the duo do have a fairly narrow range of expertise when it comes to what they actually get right here, but With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice is still an entertaining listen regardless, getting a better balance between genuine social commentary and dark humour than many who have tried. As inevitable as Frauds’ push as a flavour-of-the-month band will be, they’re worth a lot more than that, and this album proves it.
For fans of: Future Of The Left, The Amazing Snakeheads, Loom
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice’ by Frauds is released on 8th December on Till Deaf Do Us Party.