For Fans Of
When The Front Bottoms signed to Fueled by Ramen, the general panic was that their sound would be ruined, the organic spoiled by the overproduced, the raw becoming processed. Was it about to be packaged to appeal to us despite its untainted nature being the reason everyone loves it so goddamn much? The band survived the concern from fans that they had moved from acoustic to full instrumental, and they’ve survived this; at the end of the day, regardless of what label logo appears on the casing of new album ‘Back On Top’, The Front Bottoms are better than ever.
‘Back On Top’ is experimental, which makes it a fresh offering and works as a strategy for the band to avoid falling into the pit of darkness that is the repetitious monotony of releasing the same album over and over again. ‘Summer Shandy’ has a considerably slower tempo than the boys usually follow, orienting them in the direction of new, just as jam-worthy territory. For the most part the LP is electric guitar dominated in this post-acoustic era, but its use on the unexpectedly impassioned animal that is ‘West Virginia’ is by far one of the highlights of the band’s career. In fact, the whole album sounds like a full band effort, from gang vocals to trumpets, with fun additives upholding the ‘we’re-not-taking-ourselves-seriously’ impression The Front Bottoms embody while still allowing for their development musically. Speaking of experiments, let’s not forget the darkening appearance of rapper GDP on ‘Historic Cemetery’: a plunge few bands other than this one would be willing to take.
We could talk all day about the musical endeavours the band embarks on with ‘Back On Top’, but The Front Bottoms have been, and hopefully will always be, appreciable for the stories within the songs. Each track tells a tale– ‘2YL’ is a love song soaked in drunk realism and ‘Plastic Flowers’, partly set in an ER, voices an incredibly uncomfortable truth: ‘we are all, eventually, either the victims, or the victims’ family’. ‘Back On Top’ never gets too cheesy but ‘HELP’ comes close, with the cringe-y line ‘don’t worry the lovers will go down together’ being balanced out by the more down to Earth ‘promise to meet up and hang out’.
Listening to this album will teach you that frontman Brian Sella owns a motorcycle (motorcycle imagery is the new ‘uncomfortable’), but also that it’s possible for a band to graduate from the indie rock niche they’ve been cornered into and still make one of the best albums of 2015. We’re not going to go as far to say The Front Bottoms are pushing their boundaries; it was pretty clear from the start that they didn’t have any.
‘Back On Top’ is the antonymous phrase of ‘The Front Bottoms’, and an interesting title chosen by a band that have never considered themselves the crème de la crème. This record definitely gives them a reason to though. On its opener, Sella rhetorically asks ‘come on people, would I lie to you?’ ‘Back On Top’ is so honest it will answer that question for you.
2. Summer Shandy
3. Cough It Out
5. Laugh Till I Cry
6. Historic Cemetery
7. The Plan (Fuck Jobs)
10. West Virginia
11. Plastic Flowers