June 11, 2014 Framing Hanley – The Sum Of Who We Are (Album review)
Nashville rockers Framing Hanley has been impacting the music scene since 2005 and is back with yet another moving record. The Sum Of Who We Are reaches incredible lengths lyrically and musically, giving listeners inspiration through their words and empowerment through their sound. This third album for the band is a milestone and shows unimaginable growth in their pop hooks, intense rock and roll instrumentals, and meaningful lyrics.
What makes bands really stand out is diversity in their music. On The Sum Of Who We Are, Framing Hanley does just that. Each track is significantly memorable for a distinct riff, crashing refrain, or more notably, the captivating vocal hooks. “Criminal” begins with low and creeping vocals that explode into an overwhelming chorus. This opening track introduces the lead singer Kenneth Nixon’s outstanding vocal range. As the album continues, his style and talent continue to impress. Even guest vocals like Lindsey Stamey’s of Oh No Fiasco have an everlasting presence on the record. Her voice on “Rollercoaster” blends beautifully with Nixon’s contrasting tone and surges in the liberating refrain, creating an unforgettable moment on the record.
The strong vocals are not only used to enhance intensity in a track, however. “Unbreakable” is the perfect example of how Framing Hanley manipulates the tone to create balance on the album. Nixon’s deep vocals are conveyed more softly on this love ballad to paint a heartwarming image. Lyrics like “By your side, I’ll be invincible for you” captures the romantic mood of Framing Hanley. This moment is necessary contrast for the album, making the more intense moments (“Criminal”: “You’re the drug I can’t put down and I can’t stop / Girl, you make me a criminal”) balance out.
Nevertheless, that pulsing and intense side of Framing Hanley makes for some of the best tracks on The Sum Of Who We Are. Straying away from their usual consistent and flowing strong guitar riffs, “Crash & Burn” has a choppy pace and low vocal intonation that crescendos into an intoxicating chorus of melody hooks to excite listeners. Words like “I can’t erase my past but I can rewrite the end” also inspire and empower audiences, making this anthemic track the highlight of the entire album.
As wonderful as these hooks are, the energy it exerts would not be the same without the fierce instrumentals backing the vocals and melodies every step of the way. The way the staccato riffs of “Crash & Burn” dictates the track’s intensity, the subtle synth effects in “Simple Life” dominates the fun sound and pulsing tempo. This is one of the few times electronic elements are used on this album, but is done so flawlessly that it proves of Framing Hanley’s increasing potential and growth as musicians. Especially diverse tracks like these are clues to the unwavering power that this revolutionary band holds in the music scene.
Framing Hanley show no struggle transitioning from heavy rock riffs to soothing grooves in seconds. The lingering guitar riffs and continuous rhythm of “Streetlights & Silhouettes” creates a dreamy atmosphere for listeners to dive into. They hold captivating power with each note played, no matter what tone they are trying to convey. This idea of a musical escapade is such a strong element of The Sum Of Who We Are. This record closes with “Castaway”, a vivid song that uses soothing guitar melodies and metaphorical lyrics like “I’m a castaway, barely clinging to the wreckage / I hope this tidal wave might bring you my last message” to end the record with words of loss, hope, and perseverance.
The Sum Of Who We Are has set new standards in the genre of alternative rock. Capturing the hearts of listeners with their sound, style, and lyrics, Framing Hanley is a force to be reckoned with. Each track holds incredible importance on the album, making every second of the album irresistible from beginning to end. CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.