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nine by nine
The Fletcher Pratt
Nine By Nine
Rainbow Quartz

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The Fletcher Pratt have certainly done their homework. Over the course of Nine by Nine's fifteen tracks, the Detroit-based quartet conducts a symposium on Ray Davies, Lennon-McCartney and occasionally the Stooges. They spit out lyrics like Pete Shelley on his best day, while aping the sweeping attack of the Replacements. Okay, I'm finished. It's unfair simply to compare this band to the greats of the past, as they have more than enough merit of their own. Besides, I'm all out of great bands to compare them to.

The album opens with the one-two punch of "Electrocute!" and "Spin Label", after which it's hard to imagine that the album could get any better. Wrong. "Satellite" follows, with a sing-along chorus and handclaps so catchy they're illegal in certain of the more repressive states. The album was recorded in a one-week period, with the band striving to capture the atmospherics of a time when "records sounded real", and the result is raw without being forced. The guitars twang beautifully, the vocals harmonize without becoming syrupy and drums have a satisfyingly late-'70s punk crack. The first eleven tracks are exquisite.

It's the twelfth track that will truly make you realize how ambitious this band is. The last four songs are a medley that hearkens back to the second side of Abbey Road. In itself, that's not particularly impressive; the impressive part is that it works. "Take It Away From Us" is a beautiful, chiming ballad complete with sleigh bells, which segues into perhaps the album's finest moment, "Taxday", with its chorus of backing vocals and sinister repetition of the phrase "All that's yours is mine." "Liberated" follows, effectively playing the title against the claustrophobia of the song's sound; the music opens up again with the closer, "Rings True", at which point The Fletcher Pratt release their grip on your brain and allow you to go on with your day.

Give this impressive debut a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.

-- Brett McCallon
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