Single Review: Jon Fratelli – ‘Santo Domingo’

“Destined for the biggest summer festivals: it’s flirty, fun-loving; a proud-to-be rock and roll number”


Digital Release: April 24, 2011

Physical Release: June 5, 2011

Now that summer has officially started, it’s time to crack open a bottle of Pimm’s, have a BBQ, sunbathe in the back garden, enjoy the beach, the fairground rides at extortionate prices, and all other forms of quintessentially British summery goings-on. And that means the music industry will follow suit. Radio’s a-waiting for the ‘California Gurls’ and ‘Stereo Love’s of 2011 – which will undoubtedly come in the form of more gimmick-carried inanity and trashy electropop cuts from American artists –  and everyone’s waiting for that signature summer hit that’ll define their year.

And while it’s easy to get caught up in the tornado of “summery” hits that’ll be bulldozing each other for airplay this summer, Jon Fratelli, now embarking on a solo career, has decided on a lead single to kickstart his campaign with a distinctly more enjoyably project which is destined for the biggest summer festivals: it’s flirty, fun-loving; a proud-to-be rock and roll number. But the problem is, should it be so proud? Or is it, quite possibly, not as good as it thinks it is?

Well, by the time the first chorus has rolled past and you’re deep into the guitar-driven frivolity, it’s cheeky melody still ringing in your ears, Jon’s bemusing lyricism scribbles a picture of irresponsible summer fun once the sun’s gone down, which will always be met with polarised responses among listeners because to put it simply, the song’s not perfect: it’s a tad misogynist and Jon’s delivery is sloppy, to the point where the line from “effortless” to “boredom” is crossed frequently.

And even if only the utmost pedants would deny that ‘Santo Domingo’ is a refreshing tune with good rhythm, happily reminding the new generation that guitars still exist, you’d be forgiven for saying it felt a little unfinished in places; a trifle disjointed during the transition from verses and chorus, and after a while, the repetitive vocal melody – which remains unchanged until the middle eight – can be found to lose it’s own freshness even as it plays.

As a summer tune, ‘Santo Domingo’ more than fits the bill. For starters, it actually feels summery, rather than most “summer anthems” which earn their label simply by opportune releases and their ability to make people want to party, which is fine, but when there’s songs with ‘Santo Domingo’s contented summer vibe desperate for radio airplay at the same time, it’s not the hardest decision to see which one trumps it.

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