September 06, 2011 - Bar/None
While the similar-sounding Andrew Jackson Jihad have been making a slow slide into the vast seas of pure pop music by way of folk-punk, New Jersey duo the Front Bottoms have cannonballed in with nary a second thought. So, what guitarist/vocalist Brian Sella and drummer Matt Uychich lack in bluster and dissonance, they make up for with lingering hooks and magnetic charm.
What the Front Bottoms concern themselves with is the concrete things in life—the songs carry blunt titles like "The Beers," "Swimming Pool" and "Hooped Earrings"—and how their lives and emotional sanity are impacted by each one. Sometimes they evolve into knotty metaphor, but most often they stick straight to the point, as on emotion-rattling number "Father" ("I have this dream where I am hitting my dad with a baseball bat and he is screaming and crying for help/And maybe halfway through it has more to do with killing him than it ever did protecting myself").
Yes, these are wordy little tunes, fed to the breaking point with ideas and images, and often tearing at the thin veneer of Sella's psyche. What the songs don't do is wallow. Sella and Uychich keep the music and spirit buoyant through near disco breakdown beats and plenty of added color via keyboards and electric guitar stabs. There's a fighting spirit to this record that is substantial and cheering. Might as well smile as you go down swinging.