While the name Martin Frawley doesn’t won’t jog immediately for some folks, the name Twerps might. The Melbourne-based songwriter headed the band over the last few years until both his relationship and his band dissolved – the two events inextricably linked. In the wake of such upheaval Frawley seemingly let the world get on top of him, as the album’s standout “End of the Bar” recounts in a Trees Lounge-esque tale of becoming a permanent fixture always over the limit and lamentably acting in ways he’d live to regret. The album also paints a picture of coming to terms with the loss of such an important piece of one’s life. Over the course of Undone at 31 Frawley contemplates the constant second guessing of loss, the joy of finding a partner, and the work of letting them go.
In Frawley’s case that involves (as “Just Like The Rest” details) finding a way to not only walk alone, but sing alone as well. The record reflects the more solitary tone in both his lyrics and the music. Twerps were never a particularly overwrought band musically, but Undone bests them at their own minimalist game. The songs are steeped in austerity – morning plunks of piano, single guitar strums, the lonesome whinny of violin – and the weight of loss is felt from the very corners of the record.
Now while the road to hangdog troubadour is never one wrapped in joy, the upside here is that it seems to truly suit Frawly. The handprints of ‘70s loners are all over this record – from his Townes masquerading in Nilsson’s bathrobe delivery on “Does She Want Me?,” to the picking-up-the-pieces epiphanies of Gene Clark. Most have had the bottom of the world drop out from them every once in a while, but it seems that Martin has managed to translate that sense of disarray into poignant sketches about picking the pieces up and fitting them back together, even when that means trying to cram those pieces into a life that somehow seems too small now. We all have to get our shit together sometime, but at least now we have a soundtrack to ease burden.
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