There’s something quite businesslike about a gig with Franklin Electric, and at the same time something very rugged. They reflect that with their look. Lead singer Jon Matte is all luxe locks on the top and efficiency on the sides. He’s flanked by two enforcers in smartly cropped black, while the drummer in the back has hipster frames and an untamed mop.
If we think of Franklin Electric as a business, the manager must be rubbing his hands gleefully. Outside, the piles of merchandise rise ambitiously high, but I’m sure they were snapped up sharply by a local & vocal following. Inside this crowd whoops Matte’s arrival, sings along to his hits, and laughs at his awkward opening jokes (even he looks surprised at that). His sheepish grins and harmless anecdotes make the je ne sais quoi that polishes off the image. They’re after our love, not our admiration.
Tinges of folk
Franklin Electric seem to have struck a vein of pop-rock, a rich alloy of electronic and folk influences. The electronic attitude makes itself manifest in the structure: the sound is clean, precise, uncomplicated, no room for jagged guitar solos or unhinged rockmanship.
The ‘folky’ elements are the ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ in perfect three-part harmony, and the odd trumpet solo (one of them in the middle of the crowd – briefly). Really these folk-tinged additions are about as rustic as that weirdly geometric hillock on Potzdamer Platz in amongst the high-rises: it’s still a warmer touch in an clinical setup.
Game faces on
There’s more to it as well: the arrangements alight on a variety of recognisable trends without ever treading too far from the beaten track. ‘Strongest Man’ opens like a noughties skate-rock anthem, ‘Walk with You’ is more spaced out, thinking late new wave rock from last century. Throughout, there’s a presiding formula of powerful, well-harmonised block chords over tight drumming – this doesn’t waver.
The band lets its collective hair down a little in the penultimate song for a Canadian country cover, and a few other numbers could have done with the same lightness. Then again with a dozen European dates in the next few weeks, efficiency is the name of the game. And Franklin Electric, they’ve got their game faces on.