Top positive review
44 of 45 people found this helpful
The Frames' masterpiece from 1996
on April 10, 2007
It is a shame that this is only available at present on an import edition. The success of their new album THE COST has won the band a lot of new fans. For those new to the band, they are similar to the Feelies in that both bands are extraordinarily good live but somewhat flat on record. THE COST is one of the rare exceptions for the Frames, as is this album from 1996. I'm on the fence as to which album I like more. THE COST might be a better album on a cut by cut basis, but the highpoints of FITZCARRALDO might be better than the best on THE COST. But hairsplitting like this is really pretty meaningless. If you love the one album, you will also love the other. My advice: get both.
A lot of people like to call The Frames the best album in Ireland. They well may be, but I think a lot of statements like this are driven by the relative lack of success the Frames have had contrasted with the excessive success enjoyed by U2. For many of us U2 is the band we hate to love. There is no question that they are great, but the gap between them and the Frames is smaller than the latter's failure to sell many records would imply. I personally would rather hear Glen Hansard sing than Bono. He may lack Bono's power in the upper registers, but there is an angst and expressiveness in Hansard's voice that I never find in Bono's.
All that aside, the Frames is a band that will shock people coming to them for the first time. There seems to be no rational explanation for why they aren't huge. Hansard is both a great singer and a great songwriter and while they are uneven in the studio they are among the best live acts in rock. FITZCARRALDO is filled with a string of really fine songs, as well as a few great ones. As I write this I'm listening to the three-song progression of the title track, "Evergreen," and "In This Boat Together." What more could you want from music than this? Hansard is so soulful in his singing that he almost brings to mind another great Irish soul singer, Van Morrison. "Monument" is another gorgeous song (one that really does sound like U2). "Revelate" (I love the variant on "reveal" and "revelation") is another. My favorite song on the album, however, "Giving It All Away," with contrasts great playing by the band (including some great bass lines) with some of Hansard's best singing on the album.
This band deserves to be huge. They probably won't be. But I do urge anyone who loves music to at the very least get this album and their more recent album THE COST. BURN THE MAP and a couple of their live albums (like I said, they are at their best live) are also definitely worth exploring, but the two albums I've identified should be in any serious music library.