Named for the year in his life when the bottom fell out following a
long-term romantic partnership, Melbourne's Martin Frawley (Twerps)
sequenced Undone at 31 chronologically to emphasize his journey.
He took time off from drinking after mistakes and missteps in his
Australian pubs, as chronicled on "End of the Bar," an early standout
that's equal parts Velvet Underground cool and outlaw country. While
visiting Brooklyn during that period, Frawley found a collaborator
in Stewart Bronaugh (Angel Olsen, Lionlimb) who, as he says, "gave
me confidence and strength when I needed it the most," and after
bonding over albums by John Cale, Anna Domino, and Frank Ocean,
"knew where I needed to take the music."
Those familiar with Frawley's time as co-leader of Twerps will take
comfort in hearing his deceptively simple songwriting is still intact,
but the big reveal here is how new instrumentation and influences
seamlessly expand Frawley's playground. It might take several listens
for one to realize Frawley is singing "Something About Me" over just
violin, Moog, and a Graceland-esque bassline, or to appreciate the
PB+J pairing of Fender Rhodes and lap steel on "Where the Heart
Is," which serves as Undone at 31's twist ending. Frawley's album does
not shy away from morbid musings and raw emotions that come with
a breakup, and like Shoot Out the Lights or Sea Change, Undone at 31's
tunefulness and exploration combined are what elevate the music
above the melancholy subject matter.
You don't need an album (or its bio, for that matter) to tell you change
is inevitable. But with Undone at 31, our new protagonist summons
the courage and perspective to unpack and share his experience in the
hopes that in spurring himself to carry on, he inspires his listeners as
well. Because as Martin writes, "That's what you want, right? To learn.
I felt up, down, scared, and now I'm really scared of what I have made
and what people will think, but I'd rather that than any other feeling."