Review by Siobhan Long
The shoes fit. Their suits are made to measure and the skin’s all their own. Finally, after more schizophrenic shifts than a busload of Hannibal Lectors, The Frames have found their own identity and they’re not afraid to bask in its glories.
Time was when Glen Hansard used to flail and thrash – his over-eagerness to rend the coliseums of music apart sometimes irked, and often harassed his audience. Now though, like with that tight haircut, the irrelevant baggage has been jettisoned and The Frames make like much happier campers
‘Pavement Tune’ is straight-up radio-friendly rock heaven, full of just the right kind of articulate angst that programmers lust after. This is millennia’s end Undertones – short sharp shock delivered in a hummable melody that’ll readily seep into the nether regions of the subconscious.
As ever, the band are at their shiny, floppy best when they’ve got the amps turned to 11. ‘The Stars Are Underground’ is a muscular no-nonsense scorned lover’s retort, replete with dissonant guitar and vocals that sound like they’ve been force-fed through a mincer (complete with Eels-esque reverb).
‘Rent Day Blues’ is Wilco meets Will Oldham, and oddly, this louche mood sits just as easily on their collective shoulders as their superrock hero suits. It’s the twangy guitars, the unlikely banjo picking and Hansard’s sleepwalking vocals that seduce so easily.
‘Neath The Beeches’ is a bittersweet take on the tenacity of relationships, one of Dance The Devil’s most successful low-key set pieces, which staunchly resists the urge to go for full string effects.
Dance The Devil is a truly three-dimensional take on The Frames. If it’s adolescent heavings you’re after (and got by the bucket load on past offerings), you’ll be more than a little disappointed. On the other hand, if a more considered snapshot of life chez Hansard & Co. is to your liking, you’ll love it.
Long may they evolve as unpredictably as this.
Rating: 10 / 12