Album Review: The Front Bottoms, “Back on Top”
Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor
What started off with informal shows and a DIY attitude, “The Front Bottoms” are one of the most intriguing bands to have entered the music scene within the last few years.
This Friday, Sept. 18, saw the release of “Back on Top,” the fifth full-length album produced by “The Front Bottoms.” The title is more than appropriate for a group that has made a name for themselves.
“The Front Bottoms” are already beginning their tour to support their new release with shows across the states. Immediately after that, they’ll be leaving to play for audiences in the United Kingdom and Germany.
However, hard work and a busy schedule isn’t enough to rise to be “back on top.” What has made The Front Bottoms as successful as they have been is thoughtful songwriting and a certain youthful vitality that is both recognizable and charming.
Brian Sella, guitarist and vocalist, is able to vividly create imagery that roots tracks like “HELP” inside a listener’s mind. He writes, “I watch her throw her hands up into the air/ I hear her say ‘Don’t worry, though’ / Lovers they were bound together into the flames with nothing else / But the promise to meet up and hang out.” From the beginning of their career, lyrics like this have been a hallmark that gives fans the sense they know and understand who is singing to them.
While relatable lyrics have always been at the base of a Front Bottoms track, the band has also stretched and polished their sound. Particularly, the style of recording has been a step away from their previous albums. No song on “Back on Top” sounds as if it was created all by a computer in a studio, but the tracks are certainly cleaner.
Part of what made earlier albums, such as “Talon of the Hawk” or their self-titled “The Front Bottoms,” so successful is that they were in some ways unrefined. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, that raw sound only added to an overall effect of youthful energy. What you heard on the album was what you could expect at a show, an energetic band that was going to hold back nothing, lyrically or musically.
“West Virginia” is a prime example of this, as well as the change in production quality. One of the final tracks on the album, it’s all about sincere lyrics and distorted guitar riffs. It exists as a bridge between their earlier recording, while also incorporating the band’s direction of polishing up their sound. Still catchy, “West Virginia” is able to draw in listeners to what they’ve always loved about The Front Bottoms and also introduce some changes.
This departure in style isn’t necessarily a positive or negative, just preference. Although this change may cause some fans to feel torn about one of their favorite bands becoming more produced. The band also recently signed to Fueled by Ramen, a record label known to sign acts that are on their way to breaking into the big leagues. Other artists on FBR’s roster include “Paramore,” “Twenty One Pilots” and “Panic! At the Disco,” just to put everything into perspective.
That being said, “The Front Bottoms” are a band that have the ability to create their own future. Reaching larger audiences will only help in getting their name out there. “The Front Bottoms” are certainly doing their part.
Photo Credit: Melanie Levi