The band never lose their sense of fun.
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Released: 13th October 2017
Growing old with good grace is a challenge for any band that commits to a long career, especially one with a name like The Front Bottoms. But as ever they meet awkward situations with upfront honesty. If the title ‘Going Grey’ is the band acknowledging their more mature position, then the record itself is them asserting where they’re headed after three albums of staking their claim as pop-punk stalwarts.
Introduced by the sound of gulls and rolling waves, the ensuing pulse of keys and processed vocals on ‘Holy Fuck’ owes more to Chvrches than 90s blink-182, the chorus adorned with synths and throbbing bass. Brian Sella’s distinctive vocals ensure you never forget who you’re listening to, but there’s a step change from the lo-fi recordings that made their name.
2015’s ‘Back on Top’ was sometimes overpowered by electric guitar, but here Matt Uychich’s drums bring the power, and the bass is higher in the mix, indulging in beats often more pop than punk. Early highlight ‘Bae’ (cringey title aside) is something for warier listeners to grasp onto, with its catchy chorus (about moving a couch, of course) and chiming guitar lines. One marked difference in the composition is a more economical approach to lyrics, with Sella exercising restraint and leaving more room to breathe in his verses.
‘Vacation Town’ brings back the signature trumpet to yearn for the carefree feelings of summer getaways, ‘Grand Finale’ tries its hand at pounding arena-emo before the familiar sounding ‘Raining’ eases in the final third, providing the most immediate hook on the album. Despite the growth on show, The Front Bottoms never lose their sense of fun.
If the takeaway from the album is a sense of maturity, then it manifests itself in less chaotic arrangements, with each song feeling like it’s been picked over a hundred times to find the perfect calibration. Closer ‘Ocean’ encapsulates this, with a driving chorus delivered at different tempos each time it rears its head. As the band step up to ever bigger stages, ‘Going Grey’ gives them the kind of songs they need to fill those spaces. Some will balk at the streamlined sound and more pensive lyrics but there are still plenty of catchy choruses and quotable lyrics for ‘Talon of the Hawk’ diehards. The Front Bottoms are going grey, but it isn’t time for the Zimmer frame anytime soon. Dillon Eastoe