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Frestonia

Aztec Camera

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Album Review

Roddy Frame's last album for the Warner/Reprise stable after 12 years with the company finds him continuing in the low-key vein of 1993's Dreamland. In many ways, Frestonia is akin to contemporaneous albums by Paddy McAloon; like Frame, McAloon had long since given up any idea that his band, Prefab Sprout, was anything but a vehicle for his ideas, and after a third-album stumble (1988's From Langley Park to Memphis, not quite as dire as Aztec Camera's wretched 1987 album, Love), both singer/songwriters had contented themselves with making small records seemingly intended only to please themselves. Frestonia — with its soft pop exteriors, occasional jazzy flourishes, and mellow acoustic vibe — is probably the prettiest album of Frame's career. If anything, though, its only virtue is its prettiness, the way that Frame's unfailingly melodic songs slide peacefully out of the speakers, unhampered by any rough edges in the simple, low-key arrangements. The problem is that other than the two bookend tracks, "Sun" and "Sunset," there's little memorable here either lyrically or musically. For an artist whose early work was so substantial, Frestonia is something of a disappointment, albeit an unfailingly nice one.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Aztec Camera was the brainchild of Roddy Frame, a Scottish songwriter and vocalist whose precocious talent — he was still in his teens when the band cut their acclaimed debut album, High Land, Hard Rain — earned the band a loyal cult following. With Frame's knack for catchy, upbeat melodies and wordplay that often invited comparisons to Elvis Costello, Aztec...
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