The Jessica Fletchers
By: Peter Gaston
Let’s be glad the Jessica Fletchers favored octogenarian drama over cheesy sitcoms. Could you imagine a band called the Kirk Camerons or the Alex P. Keatons? Or even worse, the Bob Sagets? Sorry, Bob’s just indelibly etched into my brain after his guest spot on this week’s episode of Entourage; the Olsen twins must be horrified. Anyhow, like Jessica Fletcher — the bed-and-breakfast sleuth portrayed by Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote — this Norwegian quintet would have been mighty hot in the ’60s. Their sophomore set, Less Sophistication, is a stripped down homage to groovy British pop replete with shagadelic beats, cooing vocals, vintage instrumentation, and gritty guitar jangles.
It’s refreshing to hear a record that rather intentionally sounds as if it was recorded directly to tape on a bare bones budget with nary a computer in sight. Songs like the Kinks-y “Summer Holiday & Me” sound like they came straight off one of those Top of the Pops highlight reels on VH1 Classic, with the band all dressed in matching outfits and lip-syncing their performance into strange looking fake microphones. The girls in frilly miniskirts and dudes in turtlenecks and slacks — the ones that eerily remind us of our parents — would do “the swim” or shimmy along to the flute-led jam “How Unlucky (Can You Possibly Get)?” atop pastel colored platforms.
The pristine pop on Less Sophistication and the rest of the Fletchers’ canon developed in sharp contrast to the metal and prog-rock that reigned supreme in Drammen, a small suburb of Oslo that the Fletchers call home. Seems like that must have been the case throughout Scandinavia: That lovely corner of the globe has, in recent years, consistently delivered savvy, retro pop acts like the Hives, Shout Out Louds, Kings of Convenience, and Mando Diao, to name a few. A mention of those, however, won’t make your grandparents’ eyes light up like the Jessica Fletchers will.
Links: The Jessica Fletchers