November 21, 2018 | ° F

Inside the Review: Front Bottom’s ‘Back On Top’ Album


Fans of the Front Bottoms, a New Jersey-based indie rock/pop punk group, have been anticipating the arrival of "Back on Top," the group's first album since signing to Fueled by Ramen in June 2015. The group, consisting Brian Sella on lead vocals and guitar, Mathew Uychich on the drums, bullhorn and megaphone, Tom Warren with bass and backing vocals and Ciaran O'Donnell handling guitar, trumpet and keys, performed at Rutgers last September during RUPA's Fall Kickoff Concert.

It's been two years since "Talon of the Hawk" was released, and a question among fans was what direction the new album would go in and how much of an influence Fueled by Ramen would have on the sound. Inside Beat got an early listen to the full album, to be released on Sept. 18, and we have some good news for die-hard fans.

We've already heard four of the 11 tracks: singles "Cough It Out," "Help" and "Laugh Til I Cry" were released one by one over the course of this past summer, giving fans a strong sneak peak of the variety and sound this album offers.

The opening track, "Motorcycle," sets the tone for the album as a whole. It's certainly different than what the band has released in the past, but still holds on to the unique elements that fans treasure. As heard in "West Virginia," unique sound effects that reflect the lyrics, like rain sticks, choirs, a motorcycle engine and distinct instruments in each song, are well-loved features of the Front Bottoms' sound that appear on the new tracks.

Several tracks on the album feature trumpet solos (much more than we've seen on past albums and something we love), uplifting and emotional melodies and spoken word that speaks to the heart. Fans of "Liberty and Prosperity," a split released on April 18, can look forward to the album's sixth track, "Historic Cemetery," which features rapper GDP.

Other tracks on the album will remind fans of "Talon of the Hawk." Guaranteed to be a hit, "Ginger" (we're sure this song is about empathizing with a dog), with a clapping beat (practice the rhythm for upcoming tour dates) and memorable lines. "2YL" speaks to modern love and the blind optimism of new, young — and sometimes messy — romances, musing "I can fight the rain clouds in your life / every day, every night." The trumpet solo in "2YL" is something we've already been caught dancing to.

"The Plan (F--- Jobs)" is not a new song, but the long-awaited studio version of a fan favorite from the band's early, self-released days. You may get a hint of the self-titled album as well as conversational lyrics and clips of recorded conversations, webbed into songs like "Ginger" and "Historic Cemetery."

The closing track, "Plastic Flowers," rings the album out on an optimistic note and stays true to their past lyrical style, which usually points to unique moments in our lives that often seem small or are overlooked. College students possibly struggling to find themselves in a new setting, or life in general, can hear "Plastic Flowers" and feel comforted. The song alludes to the future's uncertain nature and just how scary that uncertainty can be. More importantly, it reassures that though something may be really, really bad right now, it won't last forever.

An observation that we made about the album is that the songs can be consumed individually or as a whole. Listening to "Back on Top" from beginning to end — and we mean really listening to the words and melodies —you can hear hints of one song in later songs. Repeated musical cues and allusions through the album connect the songs between each other to create a larger, greater story. However you take it, there's something on the record for new and old fans alike, and needless to say, it's quickly worked its way up to one of our "most listened to" albums.

If your favorite album is the self-titled, start with "Summer Shandy" — it's perpetually on repeat right now. If your favorite is "Talon of the Hawk," start with "Plastic Flowers." If you've never heard of the Front Bottoms before, go for "The Plan (F--- Jobs)." And if you like it all, reserve some time to absorb the entire album in full and in order.


Michelle Klejmont

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