Remember Framing Hanley, that band who took Lil’ Wayne‘s track ‘Lollipop’ and managed to peak the Billboard 100 at 82? No? Well, that was back in 2008 after their first record, ‘The Moment’. These days, Framing Hanley have went to Kickstarter to raise funds for ‘The Sum Of Who We Are’, their third record, and have signed to their second label. They say that “age is just a number”, and that’s a suitable phrase for this record.
By bringing life and youthfulness to the scene back in 2008 with the likes of ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Hear Me Now’, Framing Hanley were touted as up-and-coming rock stars. Vocalist Kenneth Nixon carries the look, the charm and the voice that drove the band into the limelight with their debut. But, since then, they’ve somewhat fallen off the radar, released a forgettable second record and now grace us with ‘The Sum Of Who We Are’ six years later.
Though we’d like to think that Framing Hanley may still have that youthful drive that made ‘Lollipop’ such a hit, six years is a long time in music. Present day Framing Hanley instead offer up ‘Criminal’, the first track and lead single from this record. The track inherits a catchy chorus and a sing-along gang vocal which is pretty derivative. At this point, it’s evident that the band is looking to comeback with a huge sound to make a huge entrance.
The production value is probably the most prominent aspect of this record. Every hook has been touched up, every guitar riff is thrown to the forefront and every chorus has been layered to the optimum. This doesn’t necessarily create a bad record; Young Guns did the same thing with their sophomore effort, ‘Bones’. However, it does leave a lot to be desired in terms of substance. Tracks such as ‘Collide’ create a huge sound sonically, but the likes of ‘Science’ fall thin in terms of substance in sound.
The other issue regarding ‘The Sum Of Who We Are’ is the engagement. Though the band have clearly developed in songwriting over the years, it doesn’t always equate to engaging tracks. A lot of songs simply fall flat when it comes to being interesting pieces of material. The riffs seem as though they’ve been heard countless times before, or come close to being uncanny in the case of ‘Streetlights And Silhouettes’.
Framing Hanley certainly have put effort into coming back with a record that sounds huge and certifies that they’re still here. But, in terms of a body of material, it struggles to amount to more than it could be. They’re certainly no mugs when it comes to songwriting, and it shows, however, when it comes to creating an interesting sound to accompany their work they struggle. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away, coming back isn’t always easy.
Written by Calv Robinson