Originally published on heinekenmusic.ie
by Jim Carroll
15 March 2011
It’s been a few years since I played The Frames fourth album For The Birds in full, but it doesn’t take long for the memories to come flooding back. I certainly wasn’t the only one who played the record to death when the band first released it in 2001. It was the album Glen Hansard and friends were always destined to make, a work of glorious light and thought-provoking shade, raging noise and plaintive quiet. It remains their finest hour.
Of course, being the Frames, this took more time and more dramas. For The Birds and the patronage of their Irish fanbase gave the band the largesse and probably encouragement to stay in battle in foreign fields. American and European tours saw them add to their fanbase. Anti Records came onboard to lend some organisational strength and stability. And then, former band member John Carney came along with the script to ‘Once’ and the rest is history.
Everything changed with For The Birds. It’s the sound of a band of friends turning a corner and realising that they’re in this for the long run. Full of understated beauty and magic, it still resonates with subtle grace and deepburning fervour. The songs are righteous, the tone is right, the playing is superb. There were some A-list production credits – namely Steve Albini and Craig Ward – but the heart and soul belongs to the Frames and the Frames alone. Such a display of emotion never grows old.