With the impending arrival of a beautiful, blue copy of the Front Bottoms debut, it seems well overdue to write a few words on the disc they released this year.
The Front Bottoms self-titled album may well not be to everyone’s taste. Taking a DIY mix of folk tinged adolescent pop, it’s full of youthful energy and slightly too tense emotions.
But emo it ain’t, although they may draw comparisons to Say Anything, the drums and guitar combo producing an upbeat sound slightly akin to Noah and the Whale minus the annoying drawl. While some may find Brian Sella has a slightly nasally twang, he gives it his all songs such as The Beers – a driving track where Sella sings of a summer crush and his attempts to impress.
The first tracks seem to follow their path happily enough, combining tales of girls, friends, and the desire to escape from small-town life. A horn often winds it’s way through the songs, jaunty in places, in others hauntingly mournful. It starts father on such a cheery note you almost miss the opening lines (“I have a dream I am hitting my dad with a baseball bat/ He is screaming and crying for help”)
This is a hint of a darker side to the band, echoed in certain underlying leitmotifs; homelessness, an almost worrying obsession with washing and bodily hygiene, the wanting to escape almost turning to desperation.
This darker side is mirrored by a growing complexity as the album progresses, with Swimming Pool a slightly more muted song, it’s opening lines “There is comfort at the bottom of a swimming pool, and I’m holding my breath for you” reminiscent of the opening to The Graduate – and perhaps this is the kind of thing a modern Benjamin Braddock would have listened to. The closing “telephone conversation” is a little clichéd, but it shows a resurgence of ideas at least.
By the time we hear Legit Tattoo Gun keyboards have replaced guitars, and closer Hooped Earrings continues in the same manner. Once again there are some extraneous sounds in the middle; slightly screechy and unintelligible, but it somehow works.
The Front Bottoms have definitely started well, as is demonstrated by the popularity of their live shows. If you can see beyond the false attempts at life experience, there is real feeling and meaning here. What they have done has been done well, and if nothing else this album is definitely fun. It bears repeated listens, and will have you drumming and singing along.
Overall, a good summer album, and a band that should be given time to grow.