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Album Cover The Frames - Dance the Devil... (ZTT)

Every review about the Frames mentions their popularity at home and their failure to make it abroad. Comparisons are made with their Belgian buddies dEUS, and the amount of appeal they have in indie circles as opposed to the Frames. But that ignores one thing, the Frames are a brilliant band. Especially live. A few years ago I went to see them support dEUS in the Mean Fiddler and they failed to impress. Every other time they've been amazing. The songs are eroded to the essentials as Glen Hansard bares his soul, laments the intricacies of life and mourns for lost love.

However, the emotional resonance that they exhibit in vast quantities live is not fully replicated here. The album's reviews have been enthusiastic but that's partly because most of the journalists haven't seen them live, which is an altogether more powerful experience. The main album fault lies in their decision to alter songs that were practically perfect, 'star star**' being the obvious example. It's still a fantastic song, but the live version is better. The group has been complaining about the amount of influence the record company had on the final product so perhaps this is where such tampering is most obvious. The final product however is still infinitely better than the vast majority of commercially hyped rubbish that will find its way onto your stereo this year. Buy it now.

by Neil Callanan.