Fred Astereo has followed up on 2005’s warped masterpiece I Love You with another instalment of brilliant paeans to the lovelorn in the warm and often tragically funny new album Don’t Break My Heart.
The Fred Astereo story is complex and seemingly interminable. Legend has it that sometime late last millennium, while strolling a dusty coastal track near Melbourne with ukulele in hand, a young Fred Astereo tripped upon a cursed tree root and from his hobo sack fell vinyl records by Jonathan Richman, Depeche Mode and Morrissey. They were damaged, ruined! Records by Frank Ifield, Perry Como, Buddy Holly — also ruined! The plucky Fred knew he wasn’t going to find another copy of those records anywhere, and that the best thing he could possibly do was to brush the dust from his knees, pick up his ukulele, and become a famous radio star.
He formed a band but then he quit that band. The band was named after him, so that was that. Then he discovered the magic of the studio, recording his first album in Melbourne at The Jingle Factory with producer Mikey Allen who helped provide the right amount of synth and/or doo-wop harmony wherever it was needed. By this time, Fred had decided to hit the road and found himself wooing audiences across the US, the UK, and Europe, opening for such likeminded troubadours as Darren Hanlon and The Lucksmiths. Upon his return to Melbourne Fred formed a new band, also called Fred Astereo (numbering anything from two to five members) to play his new songs, but back in the studio it was just he and Mikey again, this time to record the wonderful new album Don’t Break My Heart.
Once again, Fred has mixed the sincere with the sincerely absurd and produced a moving document of how it feels in today’s society to have one’s heart trampled. The gorgeously simple opening title-track is testament to the depth of Fred’s mine, while “Chuck it Out” is a backyard singalong to be served with a tinnie and little asparagus sandwiches. “With the Exception of Saturn”, is educational and romantically interplanetary, and “Please Don’t Ask For an Apology” is a sugar-rush to match any Top-40 hit this year. (The latter was co-written by Owen Bolwell and originally performed in the duo’s new-wave band Tlot Tlot back in the early-90s. Incidentally, the pair also penned the massive Merryl Bainbridge hit “Under the Water”.)
Champion of the romantic underdog, Fred can often be spotted late into the night, roaming the streets of Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs, spray can in hand, bombing the proverbial street poster of despair with a smiley face. His name is Fred Astereo. His friends call him Stanley. His mum calls him Jason. Whatever: just don’t call him anything less than a maverick underground pop maestro who knows better than anyone just how to string together an amazingly catchy tune.
Download MP3: Fred Astereo - Turn Me On.mp3