Review Summary: An EP in which the title is perfectly indicative of it's contents.
While Frameworks’ 2011 EP Every Day Is The Same was an out-of-nowhere success in melody, aggression and emotion, Small Victories is the release that cements the band’s sound and proves that they are fully capable of realizing their heaps of potential. At about half the run time of their previous outing, the 11-minute Small Victories makes up for its brevity in raw emotion, atmosphere and in-depth songwriting.
The sound you’ve come to know from the Gainesville, Florida five-piece has remained in tact albeit has grown to be much more concentrated. The highs and lows, beautiful soundscapes and violent outbursts continue to define Frameworks’ sound on their latest release though now they’re less lengthy and more intense. The only slight deviation is in the vocals as they’ve become a little more difficult to understand this time around. Whether this is a positive or negative is up to personal opinion however I feel it adds an air of anonymity to the record. That, paired with how emotionally moving the music can be at times creates a wonderfully unique atmosphere.
That aside, every song on Small Victories is about the same length as “Ceilings” from their previous effort (a bit under three minutes). That being the case, every second of music matters a little bit more than it once had – and fortunately Frameworks has given their songs the attention to detail they absolutely need. This is apparent in the muffled beginning to “Model Homes” and the surprisingly complementary clapping in the background of “Ida.”
Additionally, the EP benefits infinitely from feeling cohesive in terms of song order. “Ida” is an appropriately energetic and explosive opening to the EP and each song thereafter flows effortlessly and naturally into the one following it. The real gem that Small Victories has to offer however is the climactic final track “Old Chokes.” For all the tension and emotion the previous three tracks build up “Old Chokes” acts as a chill-inducing release of it all. The repetition of the line “The soil is as far as I can go” is the EP’s high point and is the kind of touching moment that all music of this kind strives for. Also this track, unlike any of the others on Small Victories, features Polyenso’s (formerly known as Oceana) Alec Prorock on the trumpet, whose playing adds to the songs climactic atmosphere.
The few negatives to be found here stem from the length of the EP. These eleven minutes seems to come and go too quickly, so Small Victories may be a little too much of a tease for people looking to really get lost in the atmosphere Frameworks has created. As such, it’s almost disappointing that the tension of “Ida” doesn’t have more time to be fully explored.
While I don’t believe the eerily accurate title was 100% intentional, Frameworks’ Small Victories EP is just that – a few very short tracks with a whole lot to say. Every song has it’s own identity and holds up on it’s own just as well as it does in the context of the record as a whole. With only two EPs under their belt and hardly 30 minutes of content in total, Frameworks have already shown they are an intelligent, competent and visceral act capable of releasing one hell of a debut album. Until then, we have Small Victories to sink our teeth into.