In spite of all the hand-wringing among traditionalists about the death of the album in the digital age, there's reason to celebrate the flip-side: more razor-sharp singles that can (and must) stand alone. For The Fratellis, a lad-rock trio from Scotland that might have been named after the villain from The Goonies, the stand-alone download is "Flathead." Less a song than a collection of irresistible hooks that change every five seconds, "Flathead" should be called "The Ba Da Ba Song," after the deliriously upbeat chorus. That way, people who hear "Flathead" in the latest iPod commercial could better find the song on iTunes.
If they do, they might notice the rest of The Fratellis' debut album, Costello Music, which is loaded with similarly giddy pub-rock that sets a new limit on how many "la la las" can get packed into one song. (The answer comes on the sticky-sugary "For The Girl," for those who can sit through it.) Mining a similar vein of post-adolescent British rock already stripped bare by Arctic Monkeys and Libertines, The Fratellis lack the wit and grit of their fore-laddies. What they have is an undeniable pop sense, which helps them produce several worthy follow-ups to "Flathead" on Costello Music, including the sweet Merseybeat ballad "Whistle For The Choir" and the glam-rock tribute "Chelsea Dagger," which recalls relative old fart Supergrass. Still, The Fratellis aren't nearly as much fun over the course of 40 minutes as they are in two- or three-minute bursts. Fans might be better off putting "Flathead" on a homemade mix-tape than following the rest of Costello Music.