Frank Smith comes off as a culmination of several genres. You have the bluesy guitar and the classic bass lines that make up an alternative country group, yet the raspy and distinct vocals that correspond with a more rock or pop genre. At first listen to this group my mind immediately thought of Ben Kweller, whom shares a similar sound. This country/indie sound comes across as incredibly enticing at first, but as with Mr. Kweller, it can get a tad flat and colorless after a while.
The album begins with “Nineteen,” a slow burner at first, carried by the methodical drum beat for about a minute and a half of the song. Aaron Sinclair provides the hazy tune with his unique voice, which has a clear, yet somehow gritty quality about it that instantly draws you in. When the song picks up at just the right time, an enticing sound of the blues guitar is added to the sped up pace and prevents the song from turning into a dud. It instead leads listeners to the next song, “5, 10, 15…” which continues the mellow tone of the first track. The waves of echoed twangy guitars together with the soft vocals and the “oohs,” give it crisp and pure indie/country song feel, making this a stand out track for Nineteen.
Perhaps it is just my general dislike for country music, but the rest of the album sort of blends together after this for me. The overall slow tempo and the super distinctive sound of Frank Smith grows a little dull after the first few tracks and loses my interest. There isn’t enough variation between slow song and fast song, or rather any different aspects to help discern song from song. The whole feeling with the album is too mellow; it becomes boring too quickly and stays that way for too long.
But through the monotonous and flat line “chillness” of this album, a slow, yet interesting track floats its way to the surface in “Swollen Tongue.” The bass and drums start the song, sounding the same as the others, but then the band moves to the bridge, where all the members chime in with their respective instrument, providing the edge you’ve been waiting for this whole album. On this song, they put together their cool, and mellow sound with instrumentation that makes the song interesting and new.
This is an album that is fairly simple, yet offers a few great tracks that really show the potential of Frank Smith as a band. Nineteen isn’t a standout album at all, but it still has some good qualities about it.
Download: Frank Smith – Nineteen [MP3]