Martin Frawley’s debut solo-album “Undone at 31” is his first outing post-Twerps and with help from Stewart Bronaugh (Angel Olsen, Lionlimb), the Australian singer has constructed a fun, easy listening record that combines the melodrama of a breakup with the affinity of getting back on your feet.
To truly appreciate this album, one must understand the context of how it was brought about. Frawley co-lead the Australian lo-fi revivalist band with his partner Julia McFarlane until the two broke up. Finding himself “Undone at 31”, this project was conceived. Four years after the last Twerps album, Frawley has graced us with passionate, heartfelt lyrics that intertwine majestically with beautiful instrumentals on what is a unquestionably strong debut album.
Everyone’s experienced loss in one way or another. It’s vile and unpleasant, yet inevitable for us all. On this album, Frawley encapsulates almost every emotion that takes place in the recovery stage, post-loss. Starting with the inaugural track “You Want Me?” is the constant questioning and concern that fill ones head... like a plague.
“Does she want me, does miss me, does she love me?”
“Does she need me, does she hope for me, does she think of me?
These questions, presented so tender and fragile, and complimented with such a simple and lovely piano lick, linger long after the song completes.
In processing these questions, Frawley turns to the bottle in “End of the Bar”. It’s another wonderful song where he is able to capture the raw state of loss. It is an unfiltered, four minute track that lays it all on the line, and what’s left after the rough piano has drifted off, is the crude, unsavoury state of a dismay. As Frawley put it, “you look familiar, you look tired, you look like you’ve dealt with me”.
Continuing from there, the album hits lows and highs; starting to drift, only to come back and jump in your face with “Chain Reaction”, a song that relies on foot-tapping drums and head-bopping bass to deliver one of the strongest tracks on the record.
“You Can’t Win” is another emotional track, which uplifts itself through it’s strong smooth guitar. Frawley repeats “you can’t love if you don’t fall”, once again highlighting the realism and sourness of a breakup. He shows that devoting so much time and effort into something will only end for you as it did for him.
The most beautiful track of 2019 so far, “Something About Me” is a song where Frawley reminisces and rethinks on his decisions. His lyrics float effortlessly through a track so tender and soft, it could be mistaken for a lullaby. On top of a delightful piano and heart-rending violin, he sings “maybe, lady, you’re better off without me”. Here it seems as though Frawley’s toughest battle is the one raging on inside him.
“Lo and Behold”, the shortest of the ten tracks, is a tiny song that resonates in a big way. The guitar teeters between campfire and truck-stop and Frawley’s lyrics nearly bring a tear to your eye, singing “lo and behold, she had someone else to hold”. The song ends abruptly with Frawley proudly saying “now he’s found someone else to hold”, proving that everyone moves on eventually, to another fate... “you can’t win if you don’t lose”.
His lyrics float effortlessly through a track so tender and soft, it could be mistaken for a lullaby.
From there the album wraps up in eight and a half minutes. “Come Home” is a melancholy melody of shattered love and brokenness and “Where the Heart Is” is a peaceful ending where Frawley calls out for love, “tell me you need me and I’ll come running to you”. Forty minutes later and the album ends with a lonely guitar fizzling away into nothingness, like Frawley’s relationship, to never return.
“Undone at 31” proves that Frawley has not lost a beat since his Twerp days, and in fact, has upped his game to a level where it’s never been. The album’s melancholy subject matter and melodic instrumentals leave the listener reflecting on their own losses in life, and will fill them with questions that they’ll ponder long after the album ends.