This was the third Frames release for 2003 (the
others being an outtakes
collection and a live
in Australia EP), but it received an American release only
a few months ago.
This disc captures The Frames live in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland, playing to their hometown fans. And the crowd had a blast, apparently, since you can hear them roar and laugh and sing along. In many ways, The Frames are best appreciated live. Not to say that their recorded output isn't worthy, since it definitely is, but rather to say that they have a certain wonderful energy in their live performances. In my opinion, it is this energy that makes live rock music so great. You sort of lose that in a recording of a show. But only sort of, since it's still a good listen, and some of the energy seeps through.
And, of course, you miss the visual cues. That might be part of what decreases the energy level, just like having a real face to face conversation is more mentally engaging than an IM chat. At any rate, lead singer Glen Hansard, who is prone to do silly dances, etc. while on stage, obviously does something really funny at the beginning of Star, Star, since the crowd cracks up with laughter. And, darnit, it bothers me that i have no idea what he did.
So that's frustrating. But the music on the album is great. Whoever recorded The Frames did a wonderful job of capturing them at a sonic peak, and the tunes, even the more delicate things like What Happens When the Heart Just Stops, come across wonderfully. I suppose it helps that The Frames chose to do a sort of "best of" set, hitting the most powerful tunes from across their catalog. The songs all sound great, especially Fitzcaraldo, Perfect Opening Line, and Lay Me Down. I listen to it, get swept up in the music and the laughing of the crowd and the good rocking tunes and it seems to me as if The Frames were, for the hour of this show/disc, the pure platonic form of "rock band".
And that's what is so great about The Frames, what i love about them so much.
They aren't an "experimental" band, instead, they are a just
a humble rock act hammering out fun tunes and trying to have
a good time doing so. Their music is from the heart, not the
brain, and it helps that they have a wide range of technical
skills to back up their songs.
In summary, if you love The Frames, then you will love this album. If you are unfamiliar with them, then this is a pretty good entry point in that they do many of their best tunes. I love this disc. Of course, it is in many ways a poor substitute for actually seeing The Frames live, but i guess it will have to tide me over until they tour this way again.