The Frightnrs have made a splendid debut album, but it's an open question if listeners will be able to listen past the story behind it and hear it for what it really is. The story is a biggie: hailing from Queens, New York, the Frightnrs were a band that re-created the sound of vintage rocksteady and early reggae with striking accuracy and genuine sincerity. After the Frightnrs made a name for themselves on the New York club circuit, they were tapped to cut an album for Daptone Records, the celebrated retro-soul label. During the sessions for the album, lead singer Dan Klein began experiencing serious health problems, and he received a shattering diagnosis: Klein had contracted ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), the neurodegenerative condition sometimes known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." While Klein rallied his strength to complete the album, ALS claimed him three months before Nothing More to Say was released, and in the eyes of many it will be seen as an obituary rather than the work of a tough, very talented band. Good reggae and rocksteady (the sound that was the missing link between the end of the ska era and the beginning of reggae) is all about nuance, and the Frightnrs have nuance in abundance. The rhythm section (Preet Patel on bass and Rich Terrana on drums) is outstanding, capturing the deep space of authentic Jamaican grooves with authority and a brilliant intuitive feel, and Chuck Patel's keyboards show he's listened to more than his share of vintage rocksteady and reggae and absorbed the influences into a style of his own. And Klein's vocals are outstanding, fitting the mood and the feel of this music without affectation or clich?s, and that these performances were the work of a man who was literally fighting for his life is truly amazing. Nine of the 11 songs on the album are originals, and it's difficult to tell the covers from the band's own work; they respect this music as players, and as composers they understand its internal logic. Victor Axelrod's production is clear, dry, and accurate, and the final product is a superb example of a new band building something powerful from the sounds of the past. Dan Klein's passing means we may never get another Frightnrs album, and certainly not one with this lineup. But this is music about life, and the passion and gritty joy of Nothing More to Say are what make it essential listening, regardless of the fate of the lead vocalist. ~ Mark Deming
- Format: Vinyl
- Genre: Pop
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Meta Artist: Frightnrs