19 August 2009

Frankmusik: "Complete Me"

Ex-fashion school student, originally beatboxer (human beatbox) to electropop artist, Frankmusik has been on a singular journey to produce relevant and urgent, but yet fun pop music. With his release of “Complete Me” (3 August 2009 in the UK, available as an import in the USA), Frankmusik has done just that. Born Vincent Turner, but taking the surname “Frank” in honor of his grandfather, it would not be long before he penned the pseudonym Frankmusik to perform under. Breaking the top 20 of the UK album charts (#13) and two singles on the UK top 40, he is already one of the most successful electropop artists of the year.

The journey to release has been a long, sacrificial one. Frankmusik is one of the true new millennium musicians, having used MySpace to maximize his exposure, tour a twenty-date tour of England on twenty-quids, and even exchanged a performance for food, not cash. With the release of “Complete Me,” he enters the realm of recognition as Little Boots and La Roux – two other artists that rely heavily on mixing elements of the 80s with modern concepts. Unlike them, the music here is more driving, and there is more “warmth” in the vocals, in much the same way as synthpop legend Andy Bell of Erasure fame.

The album opens with “In Step,” a song which may sound trendy, but lyrically is a reality check for those who think they are in the “now”: “Never took a scene check, never were a reject, honey lookin’ perfect, now you aren’t so in step…” Then the single, “Better Off As Two” chimes it way in – dance ready in its album form, the carefree music is again belied by the lyrical depth: “I’m sorry, but did I never mention I’m better off with you? ‘Coz now I think it’s time that you understood, we’re better off as two.” Two other highlights from the album include the single “Confusion Girl”: “Confusion girl never gives or takes, tries to cover up all of her mistakes waiting to be someone else, anything but herself.” And the closing track, “Run Away from Trouble,” which is best described by a line from a Cure song, “…burning eyes and hearts on fire…” (“End”). Though the song clocks in under four and a half minutes, there is a feeling of epic grandeur to the song. Frankmusik sings, “… as I walk away from trouble, I saw us all decline…” Soon after the line, the beat drops out, and there is a sonic moment left for introspection. Playing with the layers of sound, and aided by the production genius of Stuart Price, the song employs every trick, 80s and new, to pull at your emotional strings. The mixture of purely digital, synthetic sounds is tempered with the intermix of organic sounds (piano, strings) to achieve emotional depth.

Though many people have labeled Frankmusik’s as just another sythnpop artist, which is a misnomer (as he does not follow the conventions of synthpop), there is much more here. Competing in a British market that is currently dominated by female singers (as usually the pop world is post mid-80s), he has created a niche for himself in this world. Though I rarely care about chart positions (some of my favorite albums never saw the top 100 anywhere), I pointed it out here as a point of reference. Even in an environment that is stacked up against him, he is able to make ripples in the water – but he does so on his own terms. His music, quirky and fun on the outside, darker and introspective on the inside, is a definite standout in the fun, escapist reality of electropop. It reminds me of the height of new wave in the early and mid-80s, with all these bands with strange hair (remember Flock of Seagulls?) performing all this catchy music with double entendres (remember “Safety Dance”?).

Track List:
1. In Step
2. Better Off As Two
3. Gotta Boyfriend?
4. Confusion Girl
5. Your Boy
6. When You’re Around
7. Three Little Words
8. Wonder Woman
9. Complete Me
10. Vacant Heart
11. Time Will Tell
12. Done Done
13. Run Away from Trouble
14. Olivia – hidden track

Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc – “ReComplete Me” – remixes by Frankmusik.
1. Three Little Words
2. In Step
3. Confusion Girl
4. Better Off As Two
5. Wonder Woman
6. Complete Me
7. Gotta Boyfriend?
8. Time Will Tell
9. Your Boy
10. Done Done
11. Run Away from Trouble

Keep up with Frankmusik at his homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is his video for “Better Off as Two” from his YouTube Channel: FRANKMUSIKUK.

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