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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

EP REVIEW: Fräulein – Pedestal

Northern Irish/Dutch duo’s minimalist grunge continues to impress

Photo credit: Shea McChrystal

Since first releasing single ‘Pretty People’ in 2021, Northern Irish/Dutch duo, Fräulein have been honing their minimalist grunge through further releases and lots of gigs.

Comprising Northern Irish singer and guitarist, Joni Samuels, and Dutch drummer, Karsten van der Tol, last year, they released debut EP, A Small Taste, and on Friday (30 June) share their second EP, produced by Ali Chant and recorded over three days in Bristol.

Pedestal doesn’t contain too much in the way of surprises across its four tracks but instead furthers the duo’s trajectory as an exciting prospect.

The loud/quiet signature grunge sound is ever-present, van der Tol’s deft drumming accompanying Samuels’s plucked guitar in the verses before both embrace heavier catharsis in the choruses. All the while, Samuels’s vocals stand up, whether slightly mumbled in the verses, yelping or demonstrating her country-ish natural singing voice. If you enjoy the genre – and I certainly do, it’s a winning formula.

If familiar with their catalogue, the only new song is ‘Three’, accompanying singles, ‘Pet’, ‘Big Cool’ and ‘Brand New’. This new addition is about social media and its trap of making you compare yourself to others having a negative effect on your confidence. The compulsive nature of the medium is immediately conveyed in Samuels’s opening lyric of “don’t exist unless you see me” while van der Tol gives his toms and drum rims a gentle caress in the verse before the band break into a large chorus.

Similar formulas are present on ‘Pet’ and ‘Big Cool’; the former about the insidious nature of seeking others’ approval and the band’s best example of what they do and the latter commenting on fake confidence and featuring claps, jingles and bullhorns for extra percussive variety before Samuels lets loose with a chorus scream of ‘aaa-aaahh!’. The band have mentioned catharsis when discussing these songs and ‘Big Cool’s chorus is probably the most literal delivery on this front.

Closing track ‘Brand New’ is refreshing in not going down the route of ominous toms to kick things off, showing a more considered side to the band in which Samuels’s vocals are at their best. The song is about being your true self and whereas the vocals can sometimes be hidden behind the noisy instrumentation in other songs, Samuels happily lets her lyrics take centre stage before the time-honoured ‘loud’ part arrives later.

Pedestal is a solid set of songs which continues to build excitement about where Fräulein can go next. A journey well worth watching develop.

Pedestal is out on Friday (30 June) via Submarine Cat Records

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