A Small Taste might be its title, but what you actually have here is a nutritious and delicious four course meal of premium quality Fräulein, served up straight from their spellbinding live set. Although it’s filling, I can definitely guarantee that it will leave you wanting more of these two splendid human beings and their jagged, coruscating rhythms and soulfully exciting vocals.
As a representation of Fräulein, this EP could hardly be bettered. What you see on stage is what you hear on the record, unsweetened by studio trickery. Any overdubs (and I couldn’t really hear any significant ones myself) are beautifully blended into the duo’s big and bountiful, natural sound. The four songs essentially represent a year in the life of Joni and Karsten, honed and thoroughly road tested from scratch – in some cases, even before they are fitted with lyrics that fit their mood, as was the case with their most recent digital single ‘And I Go (La La La)’. A brave and even brazen move? Maybe, but it works – and works well.
If you have yet to hear Fräulein, and need a comparison with other bands to help you decide if you are going to like them or not, I’m afraid I can’t help you. There are lots of excellent 2-piece bands out there, and Fräulein don’t really sound like any of them – great for them, not so good for us writers who can’t therefore describe them as “a cross between (insert band name here) and (again here)”. But it’s their thick, grungy sound and Joni’s soulful-to-feral vocals that stand them apart from most of what might loosely be termed their peer group, and what makes them and their music as uniquely lovable as they continue to be.
After being teased by three splendid download-only singles ‘Pretty People’, ‘Belly’ and ‘By The Water’ over the course of the last year, it’s nice to finally have some physical Fräulein to treasure – well, to look forward to in August anyway, when the initial digital release of this EP this month will be joined by a smashing 12-inch circle of vinyl.
If you are a fellow Fräulein follower, you will already be familiar with most of these songs from their live sets or, in the case of the aforementioned ‘And I Go’ from the copious and deserved attention it’s been getting from those people in the realms of radio broadcasting. You will not need me to tell you about the passion and commitment with which tough, angular songs like ‘Golden Boy’ and ‘Drag Behind’ are delivered live, and you will therefore be pleased to hear that they have transferred perfectly to a studio setting.
There’s a big plus here in that Joni’s intelligent lyrics are instantly decipherable, which isn’t always the case in the small clubs and pubs that they will soon be moving away from playing, as bigger arenas beckon [perhaps via a certain high volume female-focussed DIY festival coming up this September …].
If there’s any sort of minus, its that the EP doesn’t come with visuals, so you can’t see the musical whirling dervish that is Joni Samuels, “standing on my tippy toes, just watching how it goes” as she sings in ‘Breezy’. Nor can you watch the serious, studious Karsten Van Der Tol attacking his drums like a man on a mission of ultimate destruction. But you can close your eyes, let the music take your mind and imagine the two of them right in front of you and playing out the exciting musical scenario that “A Little Taste” captures so well…
Fräulein have had a busy year to date gig-wise, playing their own gigs and recently supporting the going-places Coach Party and the already-there Mysterines. Unfortunately a recent minor domestic accident involving Joni, an oven and a couple of singed fingers has reluctantly forced them off the road for a couple of weeks, but Joni hopes to be mended in time to play the planned official launch gig for the EP at the Shacklewell Arms on 7 June, as well as all the other gigs they already have lined up during the summer. Catch them if you can, whenever you can. And buy this record, or else you will have me to deal with…
I sold my soul to Fräulein a long time ago, in the back room of the Crofters Rights pub in Bristol when they were the opening act on a three-band bill headlined by ARXX. Pardon my name dropping, but I stood at the back with that dynamic duo’s drummer Clara with both of us fell in love with their unique musical blend of impassioned vocals, crashing guitar work, and shifting, almost jazzy percussion. Lockdown happened soon afterwards and I followed them from afar throughout, knowing a day would eventually come when I could fall in love with Fräulein and their music in a live environment all over again.
I’ve now seen Fräulein live in excess of 20-25 times, and all over the country. I hope to see them many more times, too. The new never wears off of who they are, what they do, and how they sound. I’m thrilled that the way I feel about this Irish-Dutch duo is now being shared by an ever-increasing number of fans and followers. And I could not be more pleased than I am to be the person who pens a glowing testimony to the excellence of their superb new four track musical offering.
A Small Taste is out digitally from today on all the best streaming platforms and also for sale on Fräulein’s Bandcamp. The vinyl version will be on sale at gigs and any halfway decent record shop from August 18th, with a highly limited ‘alternate cover’ edition available exclusively at or via Rough Trade.