Since I reviewed his 2017 album, Something/Nothing, English singer-songwriter Nick Frater has been keeping up a steady yearly release schedule with Goodbye Kayfabe (2018), Full Fathom Freight-Train (2019) and his latest Fast & Loose this year. The self-described ‘60s/70s inspired power-pop’ specialist is determinedly prolific, by all accounts.
Frater’s pop-rock sensibilities lean heavily on the pop side, with sweet melodies an obvious priority. There is a clear affinity with the 60s/70s tuneful pop music he closely associates with. It is easy to play spot the influences here – from Brian Wilson to Paul McCartney to Todd Rundgren to Andy Partridge and (in more recent times) The Wondermints and Baby Lemonade.
The first track to transcend an overt early reliance on standard power pop tropes is the ballad “That Ship Has Sailed”. Gorgeous vocal harmonies embellish a plaintive piano tune which modulates artfully to appeal to both heart and mind. A special moment.
“Moonstruck” is drawn out in a similar vein, albeit this time with an acoustic guitar backing. Clearly, Frater is properly in his element when he brings the tempo down and focuses on embedding emotional cues.
Not that the jauntier numbers here deserve any less attention. I found the bouncy “California Waits” and the cheery “Would You Like To Go?” brilliantly constructed in that faux-Beach Boys style that many Wilson devotees have mined before.
The closing “Endless Summertimes Blues” provides an incisive summary of the best moments of Fast & Loose. Ironically, when Frater was slow and tight with his compositions, he is able to please the willing listener. Once again, the harmonies will send chills down spines as Frater spares no effort in delivering maximum thrills and spills.
Considering the sophistication of the arrangements, Frater demonstrates his production expertise by bringing an authentic classic pop sound to Fast & Loose. And for that Nick Frater has to be congratulated! Recommended for lovers of 90s Pop Underground, power-pop and melodic 70s pop-rock.
… still there’s more …