Posted on: September 25, 2022 Posted by: Kim Muncie Comments: 0

Les Fradkin’s return under the moniker California feat. Les Fradkin isn’t any attempt to cash in on a moribund but potentially lucrative musical brand name. The band’s original incarnation notched a few hits in the 1970s before bowing out at the dawn of the 1980s. Rejuvenating the band sounds and feels like unfinished business for Fradkin, however. The new single “Perfect World” is unquestionably pop. The harmony vocals, piano, guitar, drums, and lead vocal coalesce with such ease that it wins you over from the start.

There’s a close, familiar quality that Fradkin and his creative partner in the California project, wife Loretta, achieve with the song’s music video. It isn’t an eye-popping production with stunning visual effects, no, but it is polished enough and helps the Fradkin’s convey the song’s underlying celebratory spirit.

The influence of The Beach Boys is profound but never imitative. Fradkin, however, hasn’t left that sound back in the 1960’s and 70’s when he first heard it. He’s recast it for contemporary audiences with production values and a performance that eschews the deliberate distance performers once attempted cultivating to, I believe, maintain a bit of mystery and/or allure. Instead, “Perfect World” revels in sentiments and experiences that many listeners will connect with.

An interesting twist in the songwriting that shouldn’t escape listeners is its scattered confessions of vulnerability. These snippets of feeling in a song filled with it help underline the overarching yet unspoken sense of gratitude hanging over the song. It isn’t a defining element of the track, there’s too much going on here for there to be one element standing out above all others. Another twist that sets the track apart from the pack is the intimacy of Fradkin’s singing. Perhaps it is the way he’s recorded or perhaps it is more, but there’s urgency and closeness in his voice that many listeners will enjoy.


The vocal harmonies invoke much of that aforementioned Beach Boys influence. The song structure does so as well. It’s clear hearing Fradkin develop the performance that he has a sharp instinct for when certain points should arrive in a song, when the track should make turns along the way, and managing its overall length. “Perfect World” never bites off more than it can chew and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

He has tailored it to deliver. It has a full band performance feel despite the music emanating from Fradkin and his wife Loretta alone. It’s a labor of love, in more ways than one, as Fradkin has partnered with his wife in his musical endeavors as well. It’s relatively obvious that she’s the subject of the song and there isn’t a single listener who will mind.

It is certainly not expressing cookie-cutter affection and there’s nothing by the numbers about the arrangement. California feat. Les Fradkin has produced a stirring, involved, and plain-spoken paean to love and its power to transform someone’s life. You won’t turn away from this song rolling your eyes and killing the track early but, instead, you’ll likely finish it and find yourself craving more. Les Fradkin and his wife have scored with a delicious pop platter that will make even cynical ears perk up; there’s not enough music like this in the world today, but these two are doing what they can. Kim Muncie

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