There was a time, not too long ago, when “new wave” was considered dirty slang, an insult hurled at electronically driven, style-over-substance pop groups with bad haircuts and painfully derivative music.
And while some might still see it that way, there are those in this alternative synth renaissance who look to validate the sub genre, if for no other reason than to remind people that some songs are supposed to be energetic and fun, which should also apply to the people performing them.
In Toronto, The Framework looks to be leading that charge.
Behind debut full-length Before Tonight, released Aug. 4 on Last Gang Records’ extended family of Last Gang Labels, the five-piece puts forth a glossy, catchy, and bouncy collection of tracks that nods at Bowie, The Killers, Metric and a healthy swath of the 1980s. It’s also image driven, yes, and the band is OK with that.
“We don’t shy away from labels,” synth/laptopist Rayanne Lepieszo says after a Friday night show at The Horseshoe. “There are elements of punk, glam, new wave, it’s all in there.”
That said, this music’s not for everyone.
The Framework’s songs, including the band’s first single “Always Left Behind,” are sugary in a way that some listeners will ultimately reject.
The same goes for front man Ryan Isojima, whose charm, stage presence and good looks carry a certain magnetism but will also render some of rock’s more grizzled veterans disinterested.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for both in this music business, and The Framework appear to have embraced a target audience of new new wavers in search of songs that bridge the gap between Much watchers and those that loiter in local dive bars.
And the band is getting better.
There were plenty of accolades handed out back stage following the Friday set, including one guy so bent on expressing his view’s on the group’s “polished sound” that he obliterated a recorded interview.
What did come across though, in spite of the interruptions, was a sense of confidence and the idea that record and musical labels aside, The Framework is (if you’ll forgive the pun) building something its members believe in.
“We feel like we have a sound that comes from a lot of places and most importantly, on this album we got the sound we wanted,” Isojima explains. “And we’re proud of that.”
Whatever it’s called.
The Framework’s next Toronto date is Sept. 11 as part of the Junction Arts Festival.
See more from Aaron Miller and others at The Untold City