The Frames : Burn the Maps

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The Dublin band the Frames has now released five full-length studio albums along with a couple of live productions, and yet most people have never heard of them, even music geeks. Part of the reason might be that they seem to be on a different record label with each album release. Some may have heard inklings when they found out that Steve Albini produced most of their fourth album, For the Birds. Still more might have seen lead singer, guru, and founder Glen Hansard in the film The Commitments playing Outspan Foster, the guitar player. Or it could possibly be that the Frames flew into your radar when you caught Damien Rice’s last American tour. Either way, the Frames deserve to be heard and their latest, Burn the Maps, just might let them be.

Burn the Maps is the Frames’ most ambitious record to date. Whereas last year’s Set List caught the band at their most natural and comfortable best, a live setting, Burn the Maps captures the band at their most extravagant and grandiose, stepping into U2 and Live terriorty, leaving the already overused `indie’ tag behind. Hansard’s songs this time around nearly all begin slow and stripped down, as time progresses layers are added, and the songs build into crashing crescendos, splashed with dramatic instrumental spans. What you’ll also find is that the Frames are at their most confident. They’ve cast aside their former problems with major labels, the rumors of spats with Damien Rice, and the insecurity evident in previous songs. This album is the Frames shout to the world that they simply don’t care anymore and just want to make good music.

And good music it is. Glen Hansard screams some of the lyrics as he goes from song to song, releasing the pent-up anger he has been gathering over time. And the songs mirror this steady release. Take for instance the panoramic “Sideways Down.” Featuring backing vocals by Lisa Hannigan and the brilliant violin work of Frames member Colm Mac Con Iomaire, the song reaches into untold spaces of emotion. “Underglass” features Hansard at his screaming best. “Fake” is the only song I remember from the show I saw last year, and is easily the catchiest with its chorus of:

Come on the guy’s a fake
What do you love him for?
And it was my mistake
Just kicking in his door
And if it’s just a game
What are we crying for?

The album ends with two quiet storms, “Locusts” and “Suffer in Silence,” sending the listener off to their lives with somewhat of a lullaby after a long therapy session. In the end, Burn the Maps seems to be about confronting one’s demons head on and coming out alright. The Frames have worked in obscurity for too long and have finally surmounted their demons, that of cult status, label problems, movie star pasts, and being overshadowed by friends and producers. America, the Frames are ready for their close-up.

Similar Albums:
Live- Throwing Copper
Damien Rice- O
The Pixies- Bossanova

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