For The Birds bears witness to the band's coming of age as an instinctive and integrated playing ensemble, working in service of Glen Hansard's open-heart-surgery songwriting. Veering from e warm melanchola of a win Oldham or Nick Cave ("Lay Me Down", "When The Heart Just Stops"), to the inspired avant-guitarde of acts like Grandaddy and Mercury Rev ("Early Bird") For The Birds never loses sight of it's original intent, being a Frames record. Even when the band stretches out with an almost Americana feel ("Mighty Sword") or displays a fractious-type dynamic ("Santa Maria") they manage to remain true to themselves meshing styles and genres seamlessly. The new music is conceived of timeless elements, distinguished by Hansard's bare-all vocals, Dave Odlum's low-lying guitar, Colm Mac An Iomaire's grainy violin and the subtlest of all rhythm sections.
Whether or not the listener is familiar with The Frames, music or story, For The Birds is either a glorious place to start or pick up where he/she left off, it really doesn't matter. The Frames will be touring this fall and Glen will be over for a series of solo shows throughout tlle rest of the year.