Killermont Home



The Naked Truth
One man, one voice, one hell of a record.

Indie release from the former Aztec Camera linchpin, following on from 1998's The North Star

from Mojo, August 2002
By Pat Gilbert

The 'acoustic' album is invariably the last refuge of a down-at-heel-scoundrel, second only to the 'covers' album, but for Roddy Frame it may yet be his saving grace.

As with fellow floppy-fringed bedsit romantic, Lloyd Cole, Frame brought about his own decline in the 90's by allowing his music to be murdered in its cradle by bland arrangements and dull session johnnies. And, hey, maybe after 15 years he'd also ran out of new things to say.

This time, though, it's just one guitar, a voice and a torrent of stripped-bare thirtysomething heartbreak.

Recorded with a couple of mikes on an Apple Mac in Frame's front room, Surf seems to be a search for simple truths, an antidote to a decade of seemingly having to make emotive records. It's mostly forlorn and genuinely intense, a flood of carefully crafted words spilling out over complex, jazzy chord progressions and exquisitely picked folk guitar. There are allusions to a past life of dark goings on "with the twilight crowd", a strong sense of time and place (the "East End squares" of the title track), tales of broken relationships (spell-binding opener Over You) and a general feeling of someone piecing together a new existence. Delightfully subtle trainspotter references to Dylan and Bowie songs can also be found - if you know where to look.

Twelve songs of unembellished Roddy may be just a little too much to digest in one sitting, but this is a strong reassertion of a formidable and alluring songsmith. And, yes, he still looks about 23.

Roddy Frame Talks to Pat Gilbert

The stripped-bare voice and guitar seems to have worked.
"I didn't want it to be like some old fart from the 80's making just another record. My albums always had an acoustic song on them, and my acoustic sets always went down well live. I was also inspired by Paul Westerberg's Suicaine Gratifaction album. Also, I'm 38 and it's just something I thought was long overdue."

These songs seem to have a dark, confessional edge.
"I'm not deliberately baring my soul. I didn't have a big plan. It was just a case of sitting down with some ideas and a rhyming dictionary and working hard at writing the songs. A story with a happy ending in real life might end up with a sad one in a song."

There are many references to London...
"I've lived here for 20 years and it's where my life and friends are. I'm not one of those Scots that moan about the English. The city is very inspiring. I went to buy a pint of milk yesterday and saw Phil Manzanera! That's what I like about this place."

Back to the Articles Index




the lyrics

free electronic postcards

discography | archive | interact