So here’s another guy who goes to the same school as Cajun Dance Party and Bombay Bicycle Club. Either Graham Coxon is their headmaster or it’s just quite a posh school in a trendy part of North London where arty young parents with a bit of cash send their kids to avoid getting any musical ambitions bullied out of them at the local comp. Probably the latter. Ben Garrett aka frYars is another gawky, eccentric talent with a distinct pop knack, and having self-released one highly-intriguing EP, his first ever gig—in the dimly-lit downstairs room at Clerkenwell’s Slaughtered Lamb pub—is a music-industry circle-jerk.
Ben sits alone at the keyboard for the majority of the set and in lieu of a backing band, his songs are synced with a DVD of him a mate miming bass and drum parts to the songs, most of which have clearly been programmed on the computer. It’s a good joke, especially when this phoney rhythm section takes a break and are seen reading Loot and playing keepy-ups with a roll of gaffa tape.
With a hesitant croon that’s somewhere between Stephen Merritt and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, frYars outlines his misanthropic manifesto. “You should have died that very night, good job for you I wasn’t born a killer,” runs the chillingly jaunty chorus of ‘Ides’, frYars playing the thoroughly convincing part of a charming psychopath. “Do you sometimes wish your siblings were miscarried?” he asks on ‘Happy’, which argues that evil is nothing more than a social construct. If, ten years ago, you once stole Ben’s dinner money, you’d be concerned that there is an accurate pencil drawing of your mutilated corpse pinned to his bedroom wall.
Musically, the arrangements are startlingly adept, although Ben elects to use some pretty cheesy keyboard sounds. Perhaps, like Lawrence from Denim, it’s a ploy to deliberately alienate any casual listeners. But were frYars to flesh the songs out with live instruments and string parts, which may yet be his ultimate goal, then the results could be savagely brilliant.