After a decade-long career of recording pleasant folk-rock that, were they not from Dublin, would’ve found shade and an audience under the umbrella of “Americana,” The Frames changed course on 2005’s Burn The Maps, an album that introduced elements of electronica, punk, and arena-rock into their sound and, as a result, drew inevitable comparisons to U2. Their latest album, The Cost finds The Frames embracing those comparisons, coming up with an album of outsized, waving-lighter-ready anthems that seem ideally suited to give the band their overdue stateside breakthrough. From a purely technical standpoint, The Cost impresses for its single-take, unedited recordings, which only heighten the sense that The Frames could sell these songs to a stadium-sized crowd. But plenty of other bands—Coldplay and Keane, to pick the most obvious examples—are equally capable of pulling off the type of dramatic crescendos that give shape to standout cuts like the fiddle-drenched “Falling Slowly” or the slow-burning “People Get Ready.” What makes The Cost a more substantive record than Coldplay’s X&Y or Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, then, is that frontman and principal songwriter Glen Hansard’s folk sensibilities aren’t overshadowed by the band’s dramatic arrangements of his songs. Instead, those arrangements are actually in service to the multidimensional emotions that drive “Song For Someone” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” which are hardy enough to withstand the bombast. Epic in both sound and content, The Cost is both The Frames’ most accomplished album and deeper and more rewarding than U2’s recent work.
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