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Formed in 2008, “There Will Be No Miracles Here” marks the first full-length for Louisville, Kentucky based outfit Frontier(s). For those who don’t know, Frontier(s) is the latest musical venture of Chris Higdon, the singer of seminal 90s emo outfit Elliott. The band also features Matt Wieder of the early 90s straightedge hardcore outfit Mouthpiece on guitar. While the band has perhaps understandably resisted comparisons, Higdon’s singing means that Frontier(s) sound unavoidably comparable to Elliott (which of course is not a bad thing, considering the man influenced a generation of emo and pop punk vocalists). The similarity ends there however, with Frontier(s) favouring faster, rocky melodies over the beautiful and brooding progressive tunes of Elliott. There are hints of early 1980s post-punk in there, mixed with a good dose of progressive rock and an element of modern American punk.
Songs like “Abul Abbas” and “Von Veneer” are great catchy indie rock tunes which are characteristic of much contemporary mid-western indie. A whole lot more original and interesting than most of the alternative rock stuff out there, the eclecticism of the band’s influences and experiences really shines through. The album has its heavier moments, with “You Are Secrets” and “Bones” providing some punk rock goodness, reminiscent of Crime In Stereo’s heavy flashes amongst their brand of introspective post-hardcore.
Tracks such as “Young Lives” and “Dirty Pets” see Frontier(s) at their more progressive, which for me were the less appealing moments of the album. Nevertheless, these elements hardly detract from the whole as the cohesive blend of indie, progressive and punk musical stylings is flawless. Higdon’s vocals shine on “Bones” in particular, smoothly transitioning between a grungy drawl and a singing voice which is comparable to Davey Havok’s vocal style from AFI‘s “Sing the Sorrow” era onward. “Sea Of Galilee” is a personal favourite, Higdon again exhibiting his sublimely emotive vocals over a simple post-punk beat and some playful indie guitar musings.
This album is quality head to toe, from the short, stylish opener “Little Wolves” to the punchy finale “Dirty Pets”. The title “There Will Be No Miracles Here” (perhaps self-consciously) undersells this album. I guarantee that the diversity of this release and its potential to appeal to a broad range of listeners, while maybe not miraculous, is pretty extraordinary.
“There Will Be No Miracles Here” is undeniably great music. Whether or not it’s your thing, catchy indie riffs and profoundly emotional vocals combine to create a top-grade album. While Frontier(s), like Elliott before them, will probably never get the attention or praise that they deserve from the mainstream, they’re fit to give pretty much any indie, emo or punk band in existence a run for its money.
1. Little Wolves
2. Von Veneer
3. Sea Of Galilee
4. Abul Abbas
6. Marching Line
7. Poor Souls
8. Young Lives
9. You Are Secrets
10. Dirty Pets