Top positive review
86 people found this helpful
on October 16, 2006
Like so many other reviewers of Glen Hansard/The Frames related albums I have to start out by saying that Glen and The Frames should be huge in the US, but instead they've been virtually ignored for the last 10+ years. Fortunately, a friend who studied in Ireland introduced me to The Frames about 4 years ago. The first album I heard was Dance the Devil, and to be honest, I was not blown away upon the initial listen. As one who considers himself a bit of an indie snob (i.e., I spend way too much on vinyl records in order to carry on conversations about the most esoteric bands), I thought The Frames sounded just a little too familiar (Colm's violin aside), as if they hadn't quite been able to distance themselves from their influences. Then I saw them live after the release of Burn the Maps, and everything changed. After seeing them live, there was no question that this music comes from deep within each of the band members and is not simply their take on the artists that influenced them. For the last two years, I have consistently listened to The Frames more than any other band (and I'm almost always listening to music) and have yet to get bored with their music.
As with most of The Frames' material, this cd did not blow me away upon first listen. There are some excellent standout tracks in which Glen and Marketa's emotion is nicely captured: "Falling Slowly", "Leave", and Marketa's solo, "Alone Apart" are some of my favorites. And like all The Frames albums, there's even some choruses that you simply will not be able to get out of your head, something that is all too often lacking in some of the supposedly more "avant garde" indie albums.
Living in DC I was fortunate enough to see Glen and Marketa perform these songs live last week during their six-day tour of the US. Since then this album has taken on a whole new life for me. This album has gone from being just another solid Frames/Glen Hansard release to being my favorite album of 2006 in 4 short days. Any album that you can listen to more than 10 times in 4 days is surely in contention for that title; when you realize that every conversation since you saw the music performed has begun with an account of how unforgettable the show was, you know you've found your favorite album of the year.
Due to the fact that the tour is so short, I doubt anyone reading this will be able to catch them live this time around, but that certainly should not prevent you from purchasing this album. Unfortunately the Frames have never fully captured their magic on compact disc form, and this release too suffers from that shortcoming. So, though it may not become everybody's favotie album of the year, there's no doubt in my mind that anyone who listens to the beautiful string, piano, and guitar arrangements topped with some of the most heartfelt vocals in all of music will appreciate this album on some level. The music is familiar enough to appreciate on first listen, but with repeated listens, one continues to uncover layer after layer of both sorrow and joy. It is Hansard's ability to convey these two emotions simultaneously in so many of his songs that has won him some of the most devoted fans of any artist, even if record sales may not compare to artists with 1/100th of his sincerity. This will not be one of those albums you rave about for 4 months only to hear it mentioned a year later and realize you've totally lost interest in it. It is one of those albums that you will listen to for years to come only to realize that every listening experience is more rewarding than the last.