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Dia Frampton - Red Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 85%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Average: 85%

Dia Frampton - Red

Reviewed by: blue_light_888 (12/28/11)
Dia FramptonRed
Record Label: Universal Republic Records
Release Date: December 6, 2011

When we discuss the winners of vocal-competition reality shows, there’s an unspoken stigma against their real first steps into the brutal tundra known as the music industry. The last time I heard of Adam Lambert, he was deep in his song laboratory, devising a new plan to make it big. David Cook? Don’t recall the name. And seriously, can somebody please tell me who this Scotty McCreery fella is before I have to go and Encarta it myself?
Consider this: all of those folks were over on American Idol, known to TV executives everywhere as the “Death Star”. If none of them can get a foot into the door, what does that say about the prospects of the winners of other shows? Like, say, maybe the runner-up of the first season of The Voice?

Thankfully, Dia Frampton has a load of other things going for her: she has experience from her time in indie-pop duo Meg & Dia, she has a dedicated (if small) fanbase, and now she has Red, which is, by my estimation, the best thing to have come out of one of these silly voice-singing talent competition reality shows.

It’s understandable that some fans would balk at their star going mainstream, given the track record of television stars crossing over into pop, but thankfully Red makes it clear from the outset that it’s avoiding those pitfalls. You won’t find any groaners about true love© or achy-breaky hearts; Dia’s more of a purveyor of the darkly uplifting, telling vignettes about a neighbor overcoming abuse or the lamenting of a lost friend. But even disregarding that, the music speaks for itself—heck, the first 15 seconds of Don’t Kick The Chair, with their distorted piano chords, hazy synths, stomps, and whistling, are more daring than an Idol album’s worth of ballads so sappy you could grow maple trees out of them. A Kid Cudi appearance in the bridge almost sets off the red flag, but he settles in quickly and before long, his ebullience will have won you over.

Red seems split between rousing crowd-pleasers and more intimate cuts, and whether it’s swinging for the fences in the massive I Will or telling a story on the heartbreaking Daniel, the results are always a knockout. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that the transition between two extremes is always natural: Dia Frampton casts her net wide, but at times one can feel a bit of external influence seeping in. Walk Away is an album standout taken on its own, but coming on the heels of Daniel, it feels like a misplaced piece of the album’s construction. To its credit, though, Frampton seems less interested in telling us just one story than in making us a string of pearls from all sorts of shades, and the finale Trapeze acknowledges the scope of the album with impressive maturity: “This world is a whirlwind, but I’m holding that trapeze” both speaks to where Frampton finds herself right now and wraps up an album’s worth of dark musings.

As a critic, there’s some rules I have to maintain. Generally, one of those rules is to keep from making a personal ruling in what should ostensibly be a fairly objective review. I might have to break that rule today, though, by asking you to do something weird; listen to Red, despite what the cynic in your head may be carping about. Show your support for Dia Frampton, an absolutely stellar artist in the making, and don’t let one of the best releases of 2011 fly under the radar simply because we weren’t willing to listen to what it had to say.

8.5/10

Recommended If You Likeindie pop, Foster The People (seriously)


Track Listing1. Don't Kick The Chair (feat. Kid Cudi)
2. Isabella
3. The Broken Ones
4. Good Boy
5. I Will (feat. Blake Shelton)
6. Billy The Kid
7. Daniel
8. Walk Away
9. Bullseye
10. Trapeze

running time: 36 minutes
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15
04:25 PM on 01/07/12
#2
georgedcc
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Good review, personally I think the score is a little too high, but the review itself was well-written. I don't hear the Foster The People comparison though.

For me the album has a few great moments (Isabella, Daniel) a few decent but not quite there moments (The Broken Ones, Don't Kick The Chair) and a few really poor moments (I will, Billy the Kid). I think maybe because this album was rushed out for the Christmas market it was lacking the charm that her stuff with Meg & Dia does. It feels a bit saturated at times.

I hope that she gets a chance to record a second album because she deserves all the success in the world and I know that she can do better. That said, it was still an enjoyable album, it just didn't meet the high standards of her previous work with Meg.
05:25 PM on 01/07/12
#3
M.Lee
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Were Homeless and Hearts Out to Dry not on the CD version? Or is that tracklisting just wrong?
07:05 PM on 01/07/12
#4
InfiniteArms
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Don't knock Idol until you've listened to Matt Corby
09:27 PM on 01/07/12
#5
brainstew123
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great album
12:52 AM on 01/08/12
#6
georgedcc
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Were Homeless and Hearts Out to Dry not on the CD version? Or is that tracklisting just wrong?
No, they were iTunes bonus tracks.
12:59 AM on 01/08/12
#7
M.Lee
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No, they were iTunes bonus tracks.
Too bad. Homeless is one of the better songs.
05:12 AM on 01/08/12
#8
blue_light_888
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Don't knock Idol until you've listened to Matt Corby

I was referring to Idol winners, who for the most part haven't really broken through in the mainstream. But I'll check him out! What are some good reference points?

Good review, personally I think the score is a little too high, but the review itself was well-written. I don't hear the Foster The People comparison though..

I definitely agree that the album was a little rushed, but every song still works for me. I actually feel that the diversity is a bit of a positive thing in this case, as it shows that Dia can expand without necessarily leaving behind the sound she wants to cultivate--that's pretty rare for a pop star and especially valuable for a voice competition winner.

Thanks for the critique, though, and I really enjoyed the insights you gave into this album. I actually didn't know who Dia was before I discovered this album, and so I've never heard any of her other work. Evidently I have more to catch up on in 2012! :)


I really didn't know what to expect, but this was just really good top-to-bottom. I was surprised.

Too bad. Homeless is one of the better songs.

Oooh, looks like I have more to look forward to. I wasn't aware that there were bonus tracks!
05:27 AM on 01/08/12
#9
blue_light_888
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Also, noting this here:

As AbsolutePunk converts to a new scoring system, I'll be reflecting that change in my personal scoring as well. From now on, these are the standards I will grade by:

-Going by the 10 scale like everybody else.
-Last year, when I rated albums for personal use, I used letter grades instead of the percentage scores given here. I'll still be doing that, but now I'll convert grades to scores on the 10 scale.

10 - incredibly rare, album-of-the-year material. A+
9-9.5 - fantastic, basically flawless. A- to A
8-8.5 - great, top 25 of the year. B+ to A-
7-7.5 - quality, maybe a few issues but still solid all-around. B- to B+
6-6,5 - decent, noticeable issues but worth a listen. C+ to B-

from there, consider 5 to be dead average (so a C). from then on, the scale is roughly the same, a 4 being a high D to low C, a 3 being a flat D, a 2 being a D-, and everything below that being an F. I probably won't ever review anything below a 4 unless there's something about it that merits a review.

-You may note that while I have switched over to the 10 scale, the individual scores are not all the same. That's because of fudge factor, where I attribute a slightly higher score to a good aspect of the album and vice versa. (The average, however, always evens out.) This choice was to capitalize on the category system while still getting to keep my new scores--win-win.
05:45 AM on 01/08/12
InfiniteArms
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I was referring to Idol winners, who for the most part haven't really broken through in the mainstream. But I'll check him out! What are some good reference points?

Good reference points?

Well, he sounds like a mix between Mumford & Sons and Charlie Simpson's solo stuff.

You refer to Adam Lambert, he didn't win, he came 2nd, as did Matt Corby.
05:49 AM on 01/08/12
blue_light_888
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Good reference points?

Well, he sounds like a mix between Mumford & Sons and Charlie Simpson's solo stuff.

You refer to Adam Lambert, he didn't win, he came 2nd, as did Matt Corby.

derp, brain fart. Kris Allen probably would have been a better example anyhow :P

but I like Charlie Simpson and Mumford & Sons. color me intrigued.
08:38 AM on 01/08/12
georgedcc
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Thanks for the critique, though, and I really enjoyed the insights you gave into this album. I actually didn't know who Dia was before I discovered this album, and so I've never heard any of her other work. Evidently I have more to catch up on in 2012! :)

If you like this, you'll absolutely love Meg & Dia. Make sure you check out one of their albums as soon as possible. I'd recommend starting with Here, Here and Here.
06:20 PM on 01/08/12
trojanick
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Nice to see this reviewed and this was an interesting read. Bonus points for the Encarta reference.

I actually liked this album too, I thought it showed Dia can handle pop on her own. "I Will" is really out of place on the record though, and by far the weakest track.

Too bad this only opened with 10,000 sold - let's hope she gets more exposure on the Blake Shelton tour and S2 of The Voice.
08:11 PM on 01/08/12
blue_light_888
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If you like this, you'll absolutely love Meg & Dia. Make sure you check out one of their albums as soon as possible. I'd recommend starting with Here, Here and Here.

Will do. Thanks!

Nice to see this reviewed and this was an interesting read. Bonus points for the Encarta reference.

I actually liked this album too, I thought it showed Dia can handle pop on her own. "I Will" is really out of place on the record though, and by far the weakest track.

Too bad this only opened with 10,000 sold - let's hope she gets more exposure on the Blake Shelton tour and S2 of The Voice.



seriously, though, thanks for getting the Community reference (six seasons and a movie!) and I hope the sales pick up a little as well.

I Will actually doesn't sound too bad where it is on the album; thematically it's a little out of place, but I didn't feel like it was any more dissonant than, say, Don't Kick The Chair was.
08:59 AM on 01/14/12
iheartmusic043
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I don't know why but I just don't like her voice.
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