Dance The Devil...

The Frames

ZTT Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


This is another of those reviews that require me to experiment with an alternate mindset. Despite the fact I've never heard of them, The Frames are apparently one of the biggest things in Ireland, roots-rockers with a definite lo-fi sound. A web search by this reviewer (desperate for some information, as the home page for their record label, ZTT, refused to load) led to a lot of other reviews, but very little hard and fast information.

Apparently the Frames are the Next Big Thing in Irish rock and roll, heirs to the throne currently occupied by U2's overblown hype (soon to become U2's rotting corpse). They are touted in various online publications as being Nirvana with brains, the Byrds with a new millennium sensibility, and Pavement with better lyrics. For all I know, there may be a review somewhere that claims my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dance The Devil… can cure cancer. Wouldn't surprise me.

But, O Ye Faithful "Daily Vault" Readers, remember Rule #47; where there is hype, there is probably something lacking in the real product. And while the Frames may be occasionally pleasant to listen to, good listener press and guitars tuned down half a step does not a modern classic make.

The Frames aren't bad, really, but they aren't great. They seem to have very little in their catalog that can be called original; as I listened to Dance The Devil…, I spent a lot of time going "Gosh, this sounds like (Nirvana/Pavement/The Byrds/The Foo Fighters/Smash Mouth/Live/The Smithereens/et al)". There are occasional moments of real creativity - "Perfect Opening Line", "The Stars Are Underground", the tongue-in-cheek "Rent Day Blues", and the album's driving close "Dance The Devil Back Into His Hole".

Sadly, though, these few sparks of promise mostly drown under derivative tracks like "Hollocaine" (Trent Reznor beats up Michael Penn), "Seven Day Mile" (Vertical Horizon takes a lot of Valium and covers INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart"), "Neath The Beeches" (look, ma, I can be soulful and just play acoustic guitar too), and "Star Star" (I don't know what it is, but shoot it and move on).

Dance The Devil… shows that Glen Hansard and The Frames have talent. The problem is, they spend too much of it trying to be someone else, and uncanny mimicry combined with an ability to tune your guitar a half-step down isn't quite enough.

I hope The Frames take a long, hard look at their own music, disbelieve their own hype, and come up with something worthy of their potential. Of course, I hoped that for U2, too, and look what that got us. If you like this sort of music and have an extra slot in your CD changer and it isn't too expensive, go ahead and pick up Dance The Devil…. Otherwise, don't waste your time and money.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of ZTT Records, and is used for informational purposes only.