Different Degrees of Empty
Strobelight Records 2003
This is perhaps the most essential album to come out in 2003 (and what a fine year it has been). The music of Frank the Baptist is sincere and powerful, yet modest. There is no fashion statement to be made, Frank concentrates simply on the music and lyrics, hiding underneath his simple top hat and jacket. From beginning to end the songs have all the emotional and music impact of The Chameleons UK, with the rock'n'roll sensibility of whats always reminded me distantly of TSOL. Frank conveys a feeling of broken romance and fallen stars, but leaves an aftertaste of hope for a better tomorrow. They are the exasperated hopes of a dark romantic that though jaded, quixotically strives ever forward. I could go on, but I will spare you the dogma of why I love this band so much.
Now for the music. It is melancholy rock and roll; It has amazing lead and rhythm guitars that bounce off each other in perfect sync. Prominent, fluid bass is enhanced by sparse piano/keyboards. Each song's lyrics are a nostalgic foray into a cluttered room of emotional mementos and visual metaphors that provoke imagination and empathy - my personal favorite approach to lyricism.
Frank's subtle nautical theme is ever-present. Ultimately, all the lyricism, musicianship and pathos leads us to the open seas. As we reach it's shores it indiscriminately swallows all who would listen, as it has always done, and always will.