Artist The Frames
Title Burn The Maps
Label Plateau Records
Every band has a strong point; be it the gravel of Johnny Cash, the intricacies of Lambchop, or the poetry of Dylan. For the Frames, it’s the ability to be aggressively brash one moment and violently quiet the next. Some songs need canyons to breathe, but some sit quietly in the corner of the room. Burn the Maps doesn’t start by kicking the door down. Opener, Happy, begins with solitary, gloomy acoustic followed by simple bass and drums. Glen Hansard’s boy soprano melody glides over the top. It’s very restrained, but with intimations of something more abandoned. The martial rhythms and brutal guitar enter next with single, Finally. Full of conviction and doubt, the vocals break into an anguished cry with the violin circling overhead like a vulture eyeing its prey. This is the Frames we know doing what they do best. In typical fashion, they pull the volume right down for the next track before bursting forth once more.
The whole record speaks with the melancholy bitterness of a disappointed lover, ricocheting between resentment and regret, love and hate, art and blood. Full of big songs but sung with the conviction they need, the album’s centrepiece is Fake, The Frames’ answer to Smashing Pumpkins’ Today. Soaring riffs merge with infectious melodies to disguise the honest lyrics. The ‘A’ side builds up to this crescendo, with the ‘B’ side coming back down, finishing how it started. Underglass is worth mention for its driving bassline, towering chorus and haunting verse. It’s their darkest album to date, but the openness brings a feel of authenticity. If it gets the recognition it deserves, the Frames will be huge.