Longitude, a denotation of length; in this case a measure of time considering The Frames are celebrating their 25th anniversary with sell out performances in both Iveagh Gardens and Live at the Marquee. Veering away from rock and roll clichés, there won’t be a Greatest Hits to help mark the occasion but a mixtape of sorts instead; a hand-picked collection of tracks best representing the last quarter of a century. Serving as more of an introduction, Longitude is a showcase of the band’s favourite tunes, with one new song, a couple of unreleased versions and some unexpected appearances from lesser heard tracks.
This record is an unconventional one from the beginning though. Glen Hansard is known for being particular and yet the track listing here is disorderly – the songs are misplaced and yet to the band, they are in the exact order they should be listened to. The album opens with crowd pleaser ‘God Bless Mom’ and builds upwards from here with re-recorded versions of the iconic ‘Revelate’ and ‘Fitzcarraldo’. This surge of energy serves its purpose and is once again diffused by the melodic meanderings of ‘In The Deep Shade’ – the instrumental introduction from For The Birds.
Arguably, the beauty of The Frames as a collective is that they themselves are fragmented and have never been ones to shirk away from that. Sporadically releasing albums and touring, they have always retained the loyalty of their fanbase; regardless of roster changes or hiatus’ to develop solo projects like The Swell Season. They always return and always do something to improve their game, particularly in a live setting.
Moving through ‘Lay Me Down’, a beautiful track about burning love letters and into ‘People Get Ready’, a slow-burner that has been a live triumph before finally reaching the strangest inclusion, ‘Ship Caught In The Bay’; a complete afterthought from the latter half of Burn The Maps, an album which gave us songs like ‘Locusts’ and ‘Fake’. All of which serve as a precursor to The Frames new track ‘None But I’ which is lyrically one of the most intriguing and involving songs from The Frames; asking questions like “Who rose to meet the morning? Who learned the river’s name? Who told us that our blood was not the same?” It’s a strong indication that the band still have direction and hopefully we’ll be treated to some new material after some touring and a return to the studio.
The Frames D.I.Y attitude towards growth and success in the Irish music industry has been the model for many that have risen in the last 15 years and we have a lot to be grateful for in that regard. Their formula for success seems to have been sincerity and perseverance as 25 years later that’s still paying the bills and still inspiring them to push themselves. Longitude serves as a great introduction to The Frames. It mightn’t include all of their best work but it certainly whets the appetite for the undiscovered and the forgotten.