There was a time when the word “indie” seemed on the verge of becoming synonymous with “acoustic” or “lo-fi”. Perhaps these genre spaces were on the verge of a stylistic shift, something difficult to explain, and difficult to move within. New York artist Sam Levin inhabits these areas but leaps around within them so that it feels as if he is transcending genre, but what genre he is beyond is difficult to pin down — as it should be.
Frame of Mind is sometimes electronic, sometimes acoustic, and sometimes takes elements of both and weaves them together. Beginning with the truly optimistic and cinematic “Everything’s Okay”, we get a bouncy, complex sweetness that pops up again and again throughout the record — the assortment of instruments on “Hide and Seek” is a strong example. “Setup” introduces the acoustic vibes with an incredible clicking percussion line (something that appears again on “Hide and Seek” and “Metronome”), then softens further on “Shades of Pale” for a more delicate album centre.
There’s a certain summer feel to Frame of Mind that is most prevalent on the big-chorus party feel of “Ride” and the sunshiney groove of “I Sure Hope Not (Again)”. But the highlights of the album come with the velvety nighttime R&B flavoured track “Make My Day” and the innovative instructional smoothness of “Tru Mo”. When Sam Levin pushes at the walls of genre and utilizes the true musicianship featured on “Frame of Mind” and “Metronome” for something that drifts from pop into another sphere, the album becomes something bigger than itself. Something beyond the frame.