Watching an artist you like evolve and grow is pretty cool. Watching that happen to an artist who happened to grow up in the same city as you is even cooler. F R n Z may be Frase’s first solo outing, but over the the last couple of years the young Montreal songwriter has been spitting out EPs like crazy as a build up to it. (For the record, all three of those releases are pretty rad.)
The first third of the album is exclusively collaborations. The full album format gives Frase the opportunity to play mad scientist in a way he couldn’t on an EP, and it’s on these tracks where the experimentation is most emphasized. The effect is a little bit jarring. Before we even get a sense of what Frase sounds like on his own, we’re thrown into a whirlwind of other voices and contributions.
Things finally settle on the beach–ready title track. Frase is at his absolute best when he’s at the front, controlling all the moving pieces. As usual, the funk and hip hop driven beats provide a the perfect base over which he gives his smooth-as-Timberlake delivery. He gets to take a stab at sounding like an indie darling on “Made My Bed,” he nails a really haunting ballad with “Night Light,” and he sharpens his already piercing hooks with “Holdin’.”
F R n Z is definitely a success. It’s a sexy record with plenty of emotion, nuance, and soul. The watery synths, punchy guitar lines, and silky vocals mold to almost any listening environment. The choice to put all the features at the front of the album betrays an insecurity that, given more experience, Frase will likely overcome. It also means that right now, the only thing that stands in this talented artist’s way is himself.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson