Central Illinois’ Frames calls their music “power pop” and their new single “Peach Pit” bears that out. It’s a compelling mix of stylized guitar, a strong backbeat, a steady yet understated rhythm section attack, and personal lyrics. The latter quality of the new single is one of its chief selling points. Singer Darcy Johnson has exceptional phrasing as she leads listeners through her tale of love gone wrong. It’s familiar territory but laden with so many specific slice of life details and concrete imagery that it takes on the tone of a conversational poem set to song.
They’ve hit on an unique formula. Frames owes a clear debt to past sounds and bands, but you’ll be hard-pressed identifying any one particular reference point. Much of this comes down to Johnson’s presence, the sole female member with three male band mates, though some listeners will come away hearing a European flavor in these Midwestern based musicians. One gets the feeling they’ve spent more time listening to Joy Division than John Mellencamp.
Their songwriting acumen is impossible to ignore. “Peace Pit” transitions from one passage to the next with a sense of inevitability longtime music listeners and comparative novices will enjoy. They likewise strike a balance between sounding polished, well-rehearsed, yet never bereft of spontaneity. It isn’t a song that wearies the listener. Running a little over four minutes long, Frames keeps it fresh for listeners through the end.
There are some interesting turns along the way that illustrate their nuance. The careful consideration given to the song’s arrangement is clear without it ever threatening to neuter the song’s punch. Frames have a very specific vibe in mind for this song and it’s easy to imagine them carrying it off live with minimal, if any, trouble. Studio recordings can mislead listeners, but there’s nothing to suggest that the chemistry present in this recording doesn’t translate to the stage as well.
Central Illinois seems like an unlikely place on the surface for a band like this to start. It makes sense, however, when you take in the band’s idiosyncratic character. You may recognize the style, you may even hear particular influences in their music, but Frames plays like a band beholden to no set of rules. They are, instead, following their own path and compromising nothing. It’s a refreshing reminder for cynics that there’s always a new generation ready to take up the baton.
It’s also a vision capable of sustaining their music for years to come. If success comes, it will come on their terms. Frames has the talent and drive to write and record some of the most satisfying music in coming years and material such as this should find a welcoming audience. “Peach Pit” goes over experiences many listeners can relate to and delivers it in a stylish yet thoroughly entertaining musical vehicle. It’s well worth your time checking this band out and following them – they are working in their own realm and welcome us along for the journey. “Peach Pit” proves it will be one hell of a ride.