Smother, Frameworks sophomore album and first for new label Deathwish Inc., is surprising right from the getgo. Starting with the first track, “Fear of Missing Out,” it’s clear that this is tighter, more focused band. Smother is the sound of a band hitting all the right notes, of a post-hardcore, rock n’ roll act finding their groove and riding it down the highway, possibly to the danger zone. If you liked Frameworks before, you’ll love them now. If you’ve never checked out their music before, pick up Smother, because it’s pretty damn great.
Smother delivers all the emotions, intensity, energy of previous Frameworks efforts without the frantic feeling that haunted their first album, Loom. The songwriting is stronger, more consistent, and possibly more genuine. You can’t deny the energy that comes from listening to this album, it’s kinetic and raw, and every song has an almost infectious groove to it. More than anything, what you hear on this record is growth. Frameworks aren’t abandoning their sound or moving in a new direction; they’re stretching things, pushing the boundaries of post-hardcore.
This more focused effort means that Frameworks hit harder than they ever have before. The guitars unite for more riffs that bring songs together in crushing and rockin’ choruses. Singer Luke Pate rarely strays from his vocal cord shredding scream, but the careful structure of the songs still delivers mellow lows just as deftly as they pound your earholes with intense breakdowns. I wouldn’t call this a heavy album, but it certainly has moments that call upon the ghosts of hardcore’s past. It’s brutal without wallowing in darkness.
There are parts of this album that even capture the riffage of downstroke warlords like Hot Snakes. In fact, if I don’t know already the band were from Florida, I’d have pegged Smother as the work of a San Diego band, a member of the Swami Records scene, and that’s about as big of a compliment as I can give. The guitars are this album absolutely kill it, tearing it up from the first track to the last.
When it comes down to it, Smother is just fan-freaking-tastic. Frameworks has never rocked harder, sounded better, or put more of themselves out there. This is an album that bleeds, that rips its chest open and shows you a heart that beats with rock n’ roll. Emotional and fierce, Smother is the real deal; Frameworks have delivered one of the best albums of the year.
Images: Deathwish Inc.