Back on Top is Right!

WRITTEN BY: TYLER CARMODY

The Front Bottoms have a very special place in my heart. Their newest release, “Back on Top,” only asserts and increases the size of that place in my heart. From start to finish, it’s a folk-punk journey filled with relatable lyrics and fun instrumentation that is sure to make the listener want to dance.

Over the past month or so, the band released a few songs from the new album, and upon hearing them, I knew that this album would surely be different from their previous releases.

The album begins with “Motorcycle,” an electric guitar filled song that definitely has the band showing their pop-punk feelings. This song, along with a few others on the album is a very different sound than what the boys are used to. Most, if not all of their songs has frontman Brian Sella playing an acoustic guitar behind the rest of the band. This song does not, which surprised me.

The next song, “Summer Shandy,” is another different tune that is sure to make the ears of a fan of Brit-pop bands like The Cure and Oasis perk right up. It also has a sloppy, Mac DeMarco feel that intrigued me, and it surely stands out.

The next three tracks, “Cough it Out,” “HELP,” and “Laugh ’til I Cry” have all been previously released, and have a continuous feel that is more reminiscent of The Front Bottoms’ previous jams. Brian Sella’s simple acoustic guitar playing and heartfelt lyrics make a triumphant return, similar to the tracks as seen on their 2013 release, “Talon of the Hawk.”

“Historic Cemetery” comes along next, a church organ and piano filled jam that definitely slows the album down a bit without taking away from the folk-punk aspect, while adding a muddy, Kurt Cobain guitar tone that will take the listener back to the 90s in an instant.

“The Plan (F*** Jobs)” hits the listener hard right from the get go, with Brian Sella sweating like a sailor in front of an acoustic guitar and steel drum beat that feels like a Jamaican punk song, rather than a feely Front Bottoms song. I’ve heard this song live before, so it’s a good feeling to finally hear this one recorded. “When my mind is uncertain, my body decides,” is screamed by the band at the end of the tune, showcasing Sella’s relatable songwriting again.

“Ginger” is the light at the end of the tunnel. Starting right off with a wall of punk guitars and seemingly no acoustic guitar like “Motorcycle,” I can say that this is a track that shouldn’t be missed; definitely a close second with “Motorcycle.” It’s a good feeling to hear the boys playing some really heavy stuff.

“2YL” keeps that heavy feeling going, with the classic Front Bottoms lyrics about sex and relationships that we’ve all grown to love so much. This song is definitely a stand out musically from the rest of the album, with more of an “Enema of the State” era, Blink-182 feel, musically and lyrically.

“West Virginia” is another previous release, which was actually the first release from the album, with Sella proclaiming that the song is “For all [his] friends in West Virginia,” in typical New York Hardcore fashion. I’m sure that this line will stick out, prompting screaming fans at live shows to sing along. I don’t know, this line just stuck with me. The rest of the song is great too, don’t worry. Boasting another heavy tune, this one is a song to mosh to, if anything.

The album ends with “Plastic Flowers,” and in typical Front Bottoms fashion, starts off acoustic and slow, forming into a poppy tune that would definitely be a new showstopper. The bridge of the song has Sella simply talking, providing inspirational words about how life surely isn’t what it may seem, with gang vocals following, and then an amazing ending, truly a song that is a perfect ending to this amazing album. It’s fast, and ends abruptly, just like every amazing Front Bottoms album.

I’m so impressed with this entire release. I’m a huge Front Bottoms fan, and hearing the initial releases that had a lot of strays from their typical sound, I was skeptical. However, after listening to the whole album, I am floored. This band has done a great job despite having a name that is a euphemism for female genitalia. Amazing job, boys. I can’t wait to hear these songs at the amazing live shows that the band is known for.

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