Review: The Frankl Project – Standards

a0834337635_2Government shutdowns. Debt ceilings. Partisan bickering. With such a divided body politic it’s a wonder we are able to function as a country.

Preceding the nation’s current bureaucratic impasse, “Beautiful American” from Standards, the new album from Cincinnati’s  The Frankl Project, is an apt, if somewhat dire, summation of the state of the nation and dreams deferred.

I used to pledge
With my hand on my heart
Now I’m pleading the flag
As it’s falling apart

From its youthful call to arms with the opener, “Alive on the Road,” to the slow-building closer, “Life at Sea,” Standards, the Frankl Project’s first new album since 2007’s Procedural Shortcuts and Operational Failures, continues to blur the lines between punk (“Dissatisfaction at its Finest”), country (“My Hands”) and blues (“Greyhound Bust”). The album’s strength lies with its anthemic moments on “Caution” and “The Ottoman.”

These are tough times
Lucky we can wander
High rises and hate crimes
Life we’re given squandered

The Frankl Project is under no illusion that Standards, with its tongue-in-cheek title, is anything more than music. Self-aware lyrics (We’ll put you right where you belong / Sum your whole life up in a song) drive home the message that resides in the album’s opening lines:

Give up your life
Start a band
See the whole world in a van
With your friends

With a voice and a place of one’s own in a world adrift, all that remains to combat failings on our shores or a “war we wage with the other side of the world,” is love.

In this mass confusion
I feel like a little child
But it helps me forget the girl
If only for a little while

And that’s just what I need
May love provide a purpose
For your life at sea

Stream/purchase Standards below.

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