I wrote this band off forever thinking they were the old school Welsh punks the Frames, imagining another buncha old dudes playing their old songs, which is always pretty depressing, especially when it's punk rock. So, hearing these guys, Ireland's the Frames, was a big shock. Their new record, the Anti-released Burn The Maps, is a huge album. Not that it's bulky or too long or "epic" in the sense of symphonic backing or guest star spots, it's just huge as in healthy, verdant, pulsing layers of genius-produced rock casseroled with elegant lyrics, soaring Godspeed builds and loudness as a general rule of conduct.
It's huge--tectonic plate thick, Chicago pizza thick, lusty, and surging onward and upward 'til every drum part feels like a marching beat and every doomy string interlude saws furiously like it's the end of the world. The first track, "Happy," begins with a simple chun chun chun of power-chords and frontman Glen Hansard singing, "come help me out/I'm sick from the fight" sounding a little like Trent Reznor, but not enough to ruin it. Next one is a deafening rage of electric-guitar-strummed-like-acoustic steez a la Ted Leo, then a big, snowballing arc skywards like a jig band covering the Walkmen. (Rarely does their Irishness show itself, but here it brims out with just enough Pogues to give it a nice sense of place.)
Midway through Burn, "Fake" begins with 11 seconds of pure LOUD blare, which sways back mellow, then goes ear-splitting again. Violins come creaking, then vanish. Just a towering wall of Phil Spector's greatest never-pulled-it-offs. The last track is a folk song, Hansard singing about the devil, while a rooowwn of pedal steel lifts above him. It's a nice, restrained bookend for a tempestuous band that plays very loud live, the type of Mogwai-ian thunder that flaps your pant-legs like flags if you're too close to the speakers. And if you're not, proceed forward, and don't stop 'til it stops you.