When NE Volume previewed this show in our November issue, our all-star writer Wayne Maden described the sound of Fret as what would have happened if the Beach Boys had been born in 1990 and grew up listening to Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. Even for a band with moments of deep melancholia, that’s quite a dark sound for the boys of summer.
Released earlier this year, Fret’s latest album ‘Through the wound the light comes in’ did in fact sound like a surf garage band in need of some strong beta-blockers; yet it also managed to walk the tightrope of comedy/tragedy particularly well. Strong guitar arpeggio lines supported dream like, almost wailing, vocals to create music at times so sad that it made you smile – Brian Wilson’s most enduring friend.
Live, the sound of Fret could be pushed perhaps more towards Shoegazing than to garage rock; their collection of sounds combining to produce a strong pop song within the boundaries of highbrow art in the way that ‘Loveless’ did. The most striking difference between their live sound and that on record is just how much louder their instruments are; it’s a production technique which works well and produces a sound that is raw with power and gives life to songs which, to be fair, were already full of life.
Fret put on a show which is well rehearsed, well organised and enjoyable; further the show offers interesting questions into how their future recordings might sound and the direction that they are heading in. Perhaps we are in fact witnessing the reincarnation of the Beach Boys, maybe they’re just surfing in the North Sea rather than the Pacific Ocean.