Nashville rockers Framing Hanley have come a long way since they covered Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” in 2008. Their hard-rock-meets-pop-punk sound and vocals from lead singer Kenneth Nixon have breathed life to a new chapter in their music career in the form of The Sum of Who We Are.
The album starts off with their sexy, dark, perfect for a crime-drama single “Criminal”. Anthem-like choruses, eerie and haunting melodies and lyrics that are every bit the Framing Hanley we know and love are incorporated into each track but each one certainly holds its own. “Crooked Smiles” is harder vocally yet semi-softer musically and they certainly get some tasteful screams in there without being too overpowering or trying to make a point. The album transitions so well that that every song plays off of the song before it in a way and there is not an abrupt change of pace in sight. It easily flows from the electronic, Linkin Park/ 30 Seconds to Mars-esque “Simple Life” to the mellower, “Hear Me Now” prequel “No Saving Me” to downright slow songs like “Streetlights & Silhouettes”. Rounding out the album is the ‘let’s give the listener something to think over,’ reminiscent of Cartel‘s “The Minstrel’s Prayer” song “Castaway”.
Surprisingly, Framing Hanley puts out an utterly noteworthy duet in the form of “Rollercoaster”. This song is by far one of the most legit half love-hate rock songs of the 2010s. Normally I’m not a huge fan of duets because they can get a little cheesy sometimes, but the vocal pairing between Nixon and Lindsey from Oh No Fiasco is just so impeccable that you literally get lost in the song (which is the best reason to listen to it over and over again). They incorporate a hint of piano, something they don’t usually have in their music, but they still keep the rock going with emotional and honest lyrics like “sold my soul and ran us ragged/ in a frantic state of mind/took you for granted/left you on the sidelines” and “up and down again/like a rollercoaster.”
The Sum of Who We Are is lyrically stimulating and emotion-filled from beginning to end. They definitely didn’t stray away from their original style and hopefully it’s enough to get them away from being forever known as ‘that band that covered “Lollipop.”’ There is so much more to Framing Hanley than just that song and this new album absolutely proves that without fail.