The best music in my entire world seems to take a few listens
to grow on me. There are exceptions (like the latest Richard
Buckner), but normally a really great album takes about five
listens to hook me. So do not be too discouraged if you listen
to Burn The Maps and are not immediately enthralled. It
took me three full listens before it finally hit me. But when
it sank in, I was enraptured and took the time to just sit and
breathe in the record, sans distractions.
Unlike For The Birds, that was so immediately dynamic
and demanding of attention, Burn The Maps is filled with
a golden subtlety
some might say maturity. Glen Hansard
is in top form songwriting-wise once more, filling this recording
with the depths of emotion and self-exploration that all great
bands strive for, but few ultimately attain. The songs are definitely
more understated, lacking in the fiery dynamics that previous
records have so handily relied upon. Burn The Maps is a
work of supreme beauty, sullen and quiet at times, gloriously
orchestrated at others. There are not the explosions of sound
that long time listeners will be waiting for
and that is
why the record takes a couple listens to sink in. Dynamics still
exist, but they are no longer black and white changes in sound
or loudness. Instead, Hansard and his amazingly talented band
have put together songs that seem to float in some musical netherworld,
hazy at first, and then coming into sharp focus.
"Dream Awake" is instantly recognizable to anyone who
has seen The Frames perform live over the past year or
so. The song is even more amazing recorded than live, as it is
strewn with deep intricacies of sound and texture. Getting about
as sonic as any track on Burn The Maps, there are quiet
moments of reflective silence that build slowly into a generous
cluster of sound
driving drums perfectly offset the chiming
guitars and delicate fiddle. "Trying" takes new directions
with guitar effects, utilizing a curious phasing that makes the
song interesting as well as emotionally endearing. Last year's
single "Fake" is here, and it fits nicely into the record,
providing the moment of solid rock guitars and heavy rhythms,
laced with the emotive vocals of Glen Hansard. "Underglass"
is a throbbing trip, with deliberate bass lines, pounding drums,
and stop/ start guitars.
But like all Frames records, the true meat of Burn The Maps
exists in the lyrics. "Sideways Down" is filled with
the rock solid poetry that we've come to expect from Hansard.
"Maybe i should just move along / but you know I'd draw
blood if that's what you want / you found someone who makes you
laugh / who'd stick around but that's not what you want / you
slipped at the start / and dragged the whole thing sideways down
/ everybody fucks up/ its just something that's been going round."
"Keepsake" is perhaps my favorite moment of the record
as it seems to speak directly to me and the things that have been
happening in my life. "maybe it's all we can't take/ keeps
us always returning/ I'm keeping this as a keepsake/ and everything
else I'm burning/ and maybe it's cause you cant wait/ keeps you
always regretting/ I'm keeping this as a keepsake/ and everything
else forgetting." It is a delicate song with a mausoleum
quality to it
almost a modernistic dirge in some respects.
Burn The Maps is clearly the continuation of Hansard's
journey of self-discovery through his music. There are emotional
taboos and dense angers hidden among the delicate joys and discoveries
of these songs. There are moments of peaceful serenity that turn
quickly to terrors and intense interrogations. This is perhaps
the most personal and intimate record from The Frames as yet,
and I feel very fortunate that Glen Hansard allows me to learn
about myself through his learning.
3. Dream Awake
4. A Caution To The Birds
7. Sideways Down
9. Ship Caught In The Bay
11. Suffer In Silence
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