Frame of Mind | Sam Levin
3.5Overall Score

Frame of Mind is everything you would expect from an indie-pop artist, simple and quirky songwriting with some variation from the mainstream. There are a bunch of catchy vocal parts, weighed down by cliché lyrics. Not to mention the instrumentation, while diverse in selection, can at times feel awkward and out of place hindering the quality of the song. I understand that some parts are programmed instruments, which can work , but in most cases on this record, they just sound too fake and unprofessional.

The track “Metronome,” includes an actual metronome, this honestly drives me crazy for the reason that it’s just not a pleasant sound. A metronome is something that is supposed to stick out, to help musicians keep time. It reminds me of unpleasant experiences of when I was younger and learning the recording process. I would spend all day writing and recording a song, thinking “wow this sounds sick! Can’t wait to show someone,” to only be brought down later by my ignorance of microphone placement. After showing friends and family the product of my all-day music affair I would be met with questions that exposed my oversight; “wtf is that beeping? is that part of the song?” not entirely the response I had hoped for.

Anyways, enough of my ranting. I do have to give a lot of credit to Sam Levin, who composed the entirety of this album and played all the instruments on it. As there are a ton of instruments, some real and some programmed. While, I get what Levin was trying to do, some songs worked more than others.

Take for instance “Because,” a prime example of Levin’s capabilities as an artist.  A soothing island-like escape scored with ambient acoustic guitar and relaxed vocal harmonies. Everything in this song emanates a natural tone, where other songs sound too “plasticky” and parts don’t fit together as well. Yes, there are artists who incorporate both the natural and digital aspects of music. However, Frame of Mind falls a bit flat on blending these in a cohesive manner.  

Most of Levin’s lyrics aren’t deeper than the surface; I guess that comes with the genre and being so young. But there is a slight exception to this, “I Sure Hope Not (Again),” which questions the idea of fame at an early age or just fame in general. It’s a sort of funny jab at artists akin to the likes of Justin Bieber, who encounter scandal often, while also sounding presumptuous in thinking that he will be famous in the near future.

“Telescope” is one of the most problematic in its ideals, sounding a tad insulting with words that claim Levin isn’t in search of material objects like the common folk do; “I don’t have comic books or other simple things,” are comic book fans simple? I’m not a comic book fan and I’m not entirely sure being a fan is a common thing. Also, he claims to not use texting or email and implies he mails everything by hand. I understand the intentions behind the lyrics, to want something greater than material and superficial things, however the song isn’t entirely executed well in the lyrical department, resulting in an offensive tone.

At its core, Frame of Mind is a fun and entertaining album, set at a steady and moderate pace that doesn’t really deviate too far from the start. Sam Levin is only 15 years old and he shows great potential to being incredibly successful. This album is only a stepping stone that will lead to great things for Levin. He has a great voice, is a multi-instrumentalist and has a knack for song writing; he just needs to hone in on his sound to find the right mix of all his talents.

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