Monday, March 19, 2007

The Frames - The Cost

Track by track, The Frames, "The Cost" album. Overall, a sad sounding album that expresses tons of emotion, finds glimmerings of happiness for seconds at a time, and seems to be full of a lot of pain and brokenness. Basically, you can find your own story here. But cheer up, you're not that bad off.

1) Song for Someone - (5:36) Moody opener, speaking between the lines, hope for a girl who's not there, bursts of intensity about the relationship, then back to the hope that they'll be the same, and she/we will "survive this wave again." There's a good question, about being "born for someone," if we are, and if things can be "in their place." Maybe a little sad about having to wonder about such things. The instruments build in volume and thickness, then back to a guitar before broadening back out, an intense drum that goes nicely with the questioning. There are voices buried in the instruments, not at the front. The violins give it a real moody tone.

2) Falling Slowly - (4:35) The track starts off like it's someone in anguish. A very plaintive vocal begins after that, but by the chorus it's up to full group, with a very emotional falsetto at the end of the lines, on "time" and "now." "Moods that take me and erase me and I'm painted black" gives the overall sense. But the chorus reveals a hope, "Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time." The title refers to going down but not so quickly that he can't be saved. The music tells the story as much as the lyrics, alternately thick and minimal.

3) People Get Ready - (5:28) It opens very plainly, the lyrics very matter-of-fact. "What has gone between us is a lot, is a lot, and who'll get there to clean us if you're not, if you're not." "People all get ready" is because they're tearing down the stand, breaking down, coming to a stop. The instruments build or are added very slowly, and they sound like crying, kind of sad. This is a bitter sounding song. "Who'll be there to ignore us when you're not, when you're not." Then we come to a high point, and here it's loud. It's repeated a few times, "We have all the time in the world to get it right, to get it right." And actually that's pretty optimistic, I mean, who are we trying to impress? Toward the end the track is as thick and dense with music as can be, wall of sound.

4) Rise - (3:26) Here's one that sounds like a breather in a way, with the first word being "Breathing." "The wind is at my side and so are you." That sounds like a place to start from that won't be near as sad. Indeed. "Sometimes we will fall from the light, but it shines on us tonight." Yet, still, this is not going to be a happy happy song, because it sounds like a song for a brief moment. Between crises. The music is equally hesitant to see too much joy in this. They have a nice sound with the violins and all those thick places, making for an outpouring of emotion that meets the singer's observations and closeness to pain. "And together we will rise" is how it ends.

5) Mind's Made Up - (3:44) Guitar interplay, since it's "mind's made up," maybe this means thoughts. "If you want something and you call, call, then I'll come running to fight, and I'll be at your door when there's nothing worth running for." If you make up your mind, don't change it. There's probably a good story behind the song but it's not clear from the listening, so it's a good make-your-own-story song. The music has that kind of bounce, like back at the opening guitars. It gets big with the violins, screaming out really. I can't think of what it reminds me of, like acid violins, sort of the Allman Brothers' guitars on "Ramblin' Man" at the last third of the song. But at the end it dies down quickly and goes back the way it started. Like a term paper.

6) Sad Songs - (3:09) There's "a war that can't won." One of the other songs mentioned warring, too. This sounds like a "single" in certain ways, catchy chorus that's not as intense as some of the other songs, yet it taps into our personal sadness, which would actually sell more than anything too cheerful. The song is staying at one level, not building to anything big. It's a very basic track, no doubt one that could easily worm it's way into your head and you'd be humming it. Still, it's kind of sad.

7) The Cost - (4:20) Here the guitars and drums are heavy, like a forest. The song is about love, the cause of their suffering. But with such loss has been a gain, "so lay your burdens down and stop your crying ... We'll let it burn, burn us down." The heavy vibe spells out the title and words, thinking of cost, very ponderous, like a big lurching mud monster. I like the music on this one. Anyone who's known love knows it's as painful as anything. Hey, this song needed to go on for another couple minutes, really. This is one where I wanted the ponderous instruments to keep chugging it out, then no more words, then a fade.

8) True - (5:14) Here we start just the opposite of "The Cost," with a slight beginning. He's told a lot of lies, and they're like little anchors in his chest that pull us down into this mess. (He sounds like he'd be a hard guy to live with.) He says he'll be gone again. "I find it so hard to be true," with secrets like a blackness in my heart. This minimal, verse part is pretty long. You know it has to build, and here it finally comes, about 2:10 in. "I played the saint, and saint I ain't." (I find that hard to believe.) The build dies down fairly quickly, so that's the chorus. At least he's a guy who seems to be trying. Where's the big part? 3:20, we're into it again, and I don't think we're going back at this point. Yup, with a great added bonus, a sing-song background vocal only half buried. Very very nice, the ending part was.

9) Side You Never Get To See - (3:40) "The side you never get to see is the part I keep from everyone." The vocal on this one sounds both tossed-off and sincere. There's a sweet loping instrumental accompaniment on this one. It tells something, like a swirl of thoughts from a sincere point of view. It sounds like he's saying some of it is "a lie," or maybe it's "alive." Of course there are lots of sides of us that no one gets to see. Even if you're putting it out there, it really is not complete, so maybe that's what it means that it's a lie (I'm not 100% sure about that word, if that's the word.) The big build toward the end has that great instrumental sound, which is kept up in the song. Nice if you like self-examination, good stuff.

10) Bad Bone - (4:42) The vocals are right in your lap. "There's a bad bone inside of me, all my troubles started there." Wow, the songs on this album are very personal, like confessions. Very minimal instruments here, one guitar, and a vocal right on top of you. But then the instruments come in in a subtle way, you can make out each note. "When the anger that you feel turns to poison in your soul, then the scars you only feel will start to show." A little bit about a relationship comes in next, which sounds brutal. "To die with you upon the vine," a depressing thought, or maybe it means something ongoing to the very end. I'd like to think so. At 3:13 we start the build for the big finish. And let's bring everyone back in for another bow!

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