Move over ‘Selsdon Man,’ Croydon’s got a new cultural pace-setter to offer the world and he’s music to my ears: Nick Frater. Oh Frater’s not new, he’s been around. He’s played in countless bands and produced an impressive body of solo work, much of it mining a late-Beatles era kind of chamber pop. But on recent releases Frater has muscled up the sound with impressive effect. Goodbye Kayfabe showcases a range of influences from melodic and power pop to more crunchy poprock and smooth 1970s hooks. And the guy’s got a sense of humour (check out his cheeky album title/cover take-offs!). This video for his stand-alone single “Sara” captures a bit of the madness that is Nick Frater.
The album races out of the gate with the incredible, obvious hit single, “Built to Last.” I hear Cheap Trick blasting through this song. Great guitars and background vocals keep the musical tension fraught right through to the end. But then “Paperchase” sounds like a radio hit too, with its strong rhythm guitar backing, elegant 1970s lead guitar lines, and strong vocal performance. “Fruit Punches” opens with some nice Shadows riffs before shifting to a 1970s-style, smooth vocal delivered over a spare Beatles-in-acoustic mode sound. Then – bang – a great surprise change-up in the chorus. All in all, a pleasant, delightful deep cut. “More Than This” reminds me of mid-period ELO, if Jeff Lynne had any element of restraint. Frater even manages to slip some Selsdon-meets-Brexit politics into the mix with the boppy “Remoaner.”