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On Second Listen: Meg and Dia – Here, Here, and Here

on August 26, 2009, 1:45pm

Meg and Dia Frampton have grown up in high fidelity since their 2005 debut album, Our Home is Gone. That album, featuring such glowing songs as “Masterpiece” and “How Much?”, was a sparse tribute to the power of acoustic guitars and elegant vocals. They were anything but one album wonders, though, and their 2006 follow-up, Something Real, continued the quirky, alternative sound that usually dominates college radio play lists and the ‘What’s Hot’ section of the hippest music magazines.

A lot has happened since then. Meg and Dia signed with Warner Bros. records, added new band members, and polished their sound. Besides the Frampton sisters, the band now consists of Nicholas Price (drums), Jonathan Snyder (Bass), and Carlo Gimenez (Guitar), and the group effort is apparent on the new album, Here, Here, and Here. The lyrics and subject matter are more mature, and the band has implemented an assortment of new instruments, such as synths, strings, and harmonica. While their first two albums were heavily influenced by literature, the only literary reference on the new album is to Charles Dickens on, “Inside My Head”.

One of the other differences from their previous two efforts is the diversity in the song styles. The candy-coated road trip anthem, “Going Away”, kicks things off with a bouncy, pop flair that was tailor-made for cruising the open road in a classic convertible. Hardly the only pop-like track, the sugar rush continues with the irresistibly upbeat, “Hug Me”, and the first single, “What If?”. All three are hooky, mainstream friendly anthems, saddled with catchy riffs and sing-along choruses.

The band gets a little more adventurous on a few other numbers. “Are There Giants, In the Dance” is funkier and more guitar driven, and the spotlight is briefly handed over to lead guitarist Carlo Gimenez for a solo. A harmonica introduces the honky-tonk boogie of “Agree to Disagree”, while violins are featured in the power ballad, “Kiss You Goodnight”. Vocally, “The Last Great Star in Hollywood” has an almost British New Wave feel to it and is like nothing the band has ever done before.

“Bored of Your Love” is probably the closest in sound to their previous releases and features a duet with Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s. The vocalists are great together, and the interaction between two points of view in a doomed relationship is one of the highlights of the album.

If the Frampton sisters ever decided to leave the music biz, they could easily find work as writers. They’ve always had a way with words, but lyrically, Here, Here, and Here is raining witty metaphors and poetic lyrics such as, ‘Your eyes are dusty, dirt porn magazines,’ from “Hug Me,” and ‘’My teeth are yellow stars sleeping in my jaws,’ from “The Last Great Star in Hollywood”.

The band also tackles the touchy subject matter of religion on the album’s second single, “Black Wedding.” Although the song may be deeper in meaning, it is actually one of the more run-of-the mill and forgettable tracks on the album. Sounding like any number of mainstream power ballads, it doesn’t have the character to take the band to the next level, and either “Hug Me” or “The Last Great Star in Hollywood” would have made for much stronger singles.

The thirteen songs on Here, Here, and Here definitely display a progression in sound for Meg and Dia that should turn on a few new listeners without losing any of the old ones. It isn’t the most innovative or groundbreaking album around (and it may not even be their best work), but there are highlights a-plenty and not a single throwaway song in sight. They may be ready to leave college for the bright lights, after all.

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