Melbourne songwriter Martin Frawley mines an inclination for autobiography with his debut album, giving us synth-folk songs driven by loose narrative and delicate voyeurism. The buzz surrounding Undone at 31 centres on how it’s Frawley’s first solo release since the end of his internationally adored jangle-pop band Twerps (of which Frawley was a primary songwriter), as well as the end of his relationship with Twerps bandmate Julia McFarlane (who recently released a brilliant album herself). As a result, Frawley’s creation meanders on beginnings and endings.
Its opening lines first scan as a lament of neoliberal rhetoric before morphing into a story of failed romance: “Does she want me? Does she miss me? Does she love me?” From here Frawley’s thoughts and stories, and his calm, drawling voice, propel the album: the songs are loaded with rhetorical questions on relationships, decisions and insecurities. Musically, it’s effective, blending simplicity, playfulness and emotion. Most songs combine a comfortable plod, light jangling sounds, sunny synth lines and droll lyrics, particularly evident on Just Like the Rest and Chain Reaction. While Frawley openly discusses Undone at 31 as a highly personal album, it sometimes feels overly voyeuristic. The scene that’s set is of a man with troubled relations, unravelled and adrift, trying to get his life back on track. It’s a meaningful show of good songwriting, but is it a picture seen before?
Originally published in The Australian.