It’s Better That Way

A Fragile Tomorrow

MPress Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


I reviewed A Fragile Tomorrow's third album, Make Me Over, seven years ago, and was quite impressed with the band's multi-faceted version of rock’n’roll that touched on about every sub-genre it could find. Here they find even more diversity to explore, and it’s spread out over 13 really great tunes that make up my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 It’s Better That Way.

The album opens with the warm buzzing of the psyche-rock fueled “All Signs To Amsterdam,” where Josh Kean’s incredible drumming won’t go unnoticed. “Feeder” then steers right into driving, upbeat and highly melodic indie-rock that benefits much from mesmerizing synth, and the thumping versus softer moments of “Lost In Art” welcomes some retro-pop ideas.

Though there isn’t a bad track present, the middle houses some of the best. The mysterious, warm “Another Club” carries a dreamy intimacy, though it’s the animated and soaring alt-rock moments of “For An Eye” that really benefits from Shaun Rhodes’ precise bass playing and will make anyone a fan. “Fraying Wire” is also particularly great, and invites Vicki Peterson of The Bangles fame on vocals for the Brit-rock influences.

Deeper along, “Look Out!” brings both electro-pop and modern indie-rock into a very atmospheric delivery, and “Riding A New Wave” recruits a bit of quirkiness to the stop-and-start dynamics, thick blasts of arena rock and indeed ’80s New Wave swagger.

Longtime members Sean Kelly (vocals, guitars, Wurlitzer, accordion, loops, synth), Brendan Kelly (guitars, samples, loops, synth), and the aforementioned Rhodes and Kean are also joined here by Peter Holsapple (organ, synth, harmonica, harmonium, banjo). Self-described as ‘art-rock’ in their most creative venture yet, this is the best we’ve heard from A Fragile Tomorrow, but I’d be willing to bet their next album will be even better—which will be no easy feat.

Rating: A-

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