When you’re young and there’s a thunderstorm, the best place to hide is in bed, under the covers. Beneath those layers you are shielded from whatever terrors are happening outside: the unrelenting wind you’re certain will rip your house off its foundation, the rolling thunder that shakes your own core. Everything is calm and warm. Nothing can harm you.
Smaller Frame’s (Ronell Drapeza) Fright is a captivating study of what makes us scared. Specifically the risks we take forging relationships with one another and with God; Drapeza reminds us everything could be lost in an instant. But Fright does not sound frightened. It’s as if Drapeza has taken the childhood act of hiding under the covers to feel safe and applied it to his music. The light electronic touches and use of reverb throughout the record warmly wrap Drapeza’s fevered whispers and make them sound less fearful. In “I Don’t Mind,” for example, he is seemingly unmoved by the growing instrumental chaos that surrounds him and instead focuses on the repetition of “I don’t mind,” a statement that sounds more sincere with each reoccurrence.
This instrumental softness and the lyrical hardness that Drapeza plays with in Fright is handled most fascinatingly in “All Is Falling Down” and the title track. In the former, a lively pop melody combats Drapeza’s doubts and seemingly crumbling relationship with God to make an incredibly intriguing juxtaposition. “Fright” builds from a few soft touches on a keyboard into a booming, percussion driven track, before returning to the same gentle key sounds from the beginning. Amongst this swinging, Drapeza combats “fright” with “fight” and eventually has the most important revelation on the album, singing: “there’s hope for another day, there’s light for these broken days.”
Fright is a complex and intimate recording that stands tall despite its title and provides comfort despite the anxieties within. Best listened to under the covers.
Top Tracks: “All Is Falling Down”; “Fright”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)