Unless you've never heard a single Fratellis song, you'll probably have an opinion on the Glaswegians at this stage. Dismissed by many as glorified pub-rock for overweight football fans, the trio's debut album may not have been the most exhilarating album of 2006 - but it sure had the occasional glimmer of pop-rock genius in tracks like the jaunty Henrietta, the swaggering Chelsea Dagger, or the frenetic romp of Creepin' Up the Backstairs.
Strangely, there's a gaping absence of similar panache on their second record. Whether The Fratellis have simply run out of ideas or are attempting a more serious songwriting method is unclear; but it's patently, and periodically painfully obvious, that Here We Stand is a clunkier, less-consistent follow-up.
Gone is the welcome measure of whimsy that made Costello Music flow so easily and enjoyably; the influences that the trio once cleverly pilfered from and modernised are now being unabashedly aped. For the most part, this is an album constructed around bland, cliched rollicking rock riffs (Shameless, Acid Jazz Singer) and nods to big-haired '70s Brit-rockers like Slade and Status Quo (Tell Me A Lie, A Heady Tale). It's no surprise that Mistress Mabel and Lupe Brown have been chosen as the lead singles - the former makes cursory amends with its catchy, glam, Elton John-esque piano sparkles, while the latter's '60s Beatles-like beat attempts a half-hearted swagger.
Still, two acceptable songs do not an album make, and many will even find The Fratellis' lyrical offerings - they're still forging songs from the same fabricated characters and non-events - tiresome, where they once raised smiles. Irksome as it is to admit, this album really is glorified pub-rock - as well as a real disappointment.