Some of the greatest albums of all time are biographical concepts. The band Frank Smith would like Nineties added to the list. With the exception of the first track, singer/songwriter Aaron Sinclair has taken an entire album to look back at the decade in which he developed as a musician as well as an adult. Opening with “We Will All Win”, Sinclair seems to take one last brief farewell to a style he and the band are about to leave behind. The sparse and mournful requiem sets the emotional and topical tone for the rest of the album without leaving a clue what you will hear next. The opening riff of the second song boldly establishes the surprising new style of Frank Smith. Surf guitar riffs, dark and mysterious, are brilliantly illuminated by sparkly jangle pop guitar, rounded out by deliciously cheesy keyboards. The soundscape is awash with a sea of reverb in a cavernous atmosphere that is simultaneously spacious and intimate.
While the band reveals Sinclair’s musical influences of the decade, his lyrics express the anxieties of early adulthood. The frustrations of minor failures while struggling to succeed in life and love are both personal and universal. Anyone in or beyond their twenties can relate. With a what-the-hell attitude, Sinclair manages to maintain a sense of hope, even though he’d prefer to just get drunk and forget about it. The result is a joyously fresh new style of cry in your beer bar band music. In a word, Nineties is intoxicating.
— Mark Peterson
Frank Smith will perform live in Chapel Hill at The Cave on August 8th. This will be their only North Carolina appearance with this tour, so don’t miss it!