Review Summary: After listening to this album for ages, I can safely say these songs will not leave my head. Oceansize have proven themselves to be one of the most original and consistent bands out there today.
Only 8 songs, and yet the album is over an hour in length" My god, it's the exact type of thing which will detract all of those little kids who listen to mainstream music. But, that is not a bad thing, is it" For their most recent release, Oceansize crafted only 8 songs, each involving a lot of meticulous work and thinking. Every song on this album belongs and blends into the next, touching on so many styles while still being a cohesive, tight, and powerful journey.
Frames follows up their previous release, Everyone Into Position (which was criticized by fans for trying a more mainstream approach). I really don't see this criticism as very valid, as nothing on the album was very mainstream, and there were many fantastic songs, such as Ornament/The Last Wrongs. It did, have its rough spots, and it is obvious that the improvements made in the following two years ironed those out, but the sophomore effort was still a wonderful record. Oceansize began their third studio album without making any goals. Their only intent was to write music, with no intent of appealing to a mainstream audience. There was no lead single, and no short songs, everything tracking in at six and a half minutes plus.
The engineering and overall sound on this album is incredible. The guitars sound dense and tight, and the drums sound strong and powerful, while the bass is punchy and moody. Unfamiliar starts out with an 11/4 guitar jive, which feels dense and fluid. Softer numbers mix the parts perfectly, as to not overpower the main instruments, and the string section on Savant is a moment of pure, never-will-be-played-on-the-radio, beauty.
Though every song on this album is great, and there is no filler, some simply refuse to leave my mind. Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions (originally just called "Meshuggah", due to the obvious influence), is a riff-heavy song with extremely down-tuned guitars, and an extremely unusual bridge section, which is both funny, strange, and addicting. Unfamiliar is overall, one of the most solid songs I have heard, and stays interesting and driving throughout, with not one single low spot. Only Twin is haunting and beautiful and involves many polyrhythms, and Trail of Fire is likely the best song the band has ever written, with an unforgettable riff about four and a half minutes in. This song also showcases Mark Heron's amazing skills on the drum kit. The Frame is the song which ties the whole album together, and is a big slap in the face to commercial music, as it could have obviously been a successful single, if not for its length of over ten minutes.
Frames is the most cohesive album that Oceansize has written to date. There is no single song that does not belong on here, and each one shows so much attention to even the most minute details. The engineering is fantastic (hats off to Chris Sheldon), and some songs just refuse to leave your mind for days after. Every song is written as to have a sense of full circle, perfect completion. It will be interesting to see how Oceansize can follow up this incredible release, which sadly will go mostly unknown to most of the music community.