MY OPINION of The Frames has always been skewered towards the negative because of their debut single, the hideously awful 'The Dancer'. The band's knack of repackaging indie and alternative rock for mainstream audiences made them appear edgy to many - but only if you ignored what was going on in indie and alternative rock. Forgive the Indie-snobbery but that did not sit well with me either.
Mercifully 'The Dancer', and anything from the band's debut, Another Love Song, is absent from Longitude, a compilation to mark the band's 25th year. This 12-tracker is lean and focused, featuring two/three songs apiece from Fitzcarraldo to The Cost, plus new song 'Not I', and, bafflingly, re-recorded versions of 'Revelate' and 'Fitzcarraldo'.
Glen Hansard has, over the years, become an easy target for unashamedly wearing his influences on his sleeve. You can spot the nods towards Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley, Krautrock, Pavement, Pixies, and The Bends era Radiohead ('Revelate' ), while Grandaddy looms large over the entire collection. Is that a crime though? Even Radiohead's OK Computer doesn't exactly disguise its indebtedness to Pink Floyd while Captain Beefheart never outgrew his Howlin' Wolf infatuation.
Spending time with Longitude argues it is time to give Hansard a break. When he's on form, he can pen a fine song. 'Fitzcarraldo' has a certain majesty, mainly through the sublime violin work of Colm Mac Con Iomaire; 'Lay Me Down' is a delicate and lovely folk-pop ballad; 'God Bless Mom' is delightfully eccentric; while 'The Cost' is moody, sombre, and all the better for it. The new song, 'Not I' fits in well here, building to a climactic epic, ensuring Frames' concerts will continue to be religious experiences for the faithful.
I may not be finally converted to The Frames, but Longitude is strong enough to warrant respect and repeated visits.