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The Frames
Burn The Maps
Anti records

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.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:

1. Happy
2. Finally
3. Dream Awake
4. A Caution To The Birds
5. Trying
6. Fake
7. Sideways Down
8. Underglass
9. Ship Caught In The Bay
10. Keepsake
11. Suffer In Silence
12. Locusts

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