The Front Bottoms’ “Going Grey” Takes A New Direction
The Front Bottoms, Brian Sellas and Mat Uychich, are growing older and their sound is maturing. Once known for their raw lyrics, vocals and melodies, The Front Bottoms erupted as underdogs in the indie music scene, but are straying away from that with their latest album, “Going Grey.”
Previous albums such as their self-titled LP and “Talon of the Hawk” consist of sounds unique to this dynamic duo, which is what made fans become hopelessly lost in their music. Sellas’ thick Jersey accent and witty lyrics always compliment Uychich’s coarse drumming. These old but loveable aspects are what make The Front Bottoms oddly pleasing, but “Going Grey” begins to replace these important characteristics with other ones.
The refined sound in “Going Grey” is pleasing, but it does not sound like the sacred rawness that The Front Bottoms always fought hard to keep on every demo and record. Of course, bands evolve over time. Changes happen, but The Front Bottoms’ sound is difficult to part with because it is what defines them.
Auto-tune and computer generated melodies cannot make up for the perfect imperfections in Sellas’ voice; they only take away from it. The Front Bottoms’ newest sound does not compare to the evolution of their peers like Citizen or Turnover because it is overloaded with synths and electronic bridges.
Even though “Going Grey“ is marking a new sound and start for The Front Bottoms, it is not all bad. Their tracks are still audibly pleasing, but this is overshadowed by how quickly their do-it-yourself vibe was abandoned.
The album’s smoothness is also a new part of the duo. For The Front Bottoms, it all sounded homegrown and imperfect, which gave them a folk-punk feel, but now it leans more towards pop but is just shy of it. The lack of placement leaves room for an album that does not quite satisfy fans and serial listeners.
“Going Grey” at least consists of lyrics that live up to The Front Bottom’s established wit. Specifically, “Don’t Fill Up on Chips” toys with their cleverness and gives fans what they have been lyrically craving. Lines like “Fill up the space that I don’t need/ feel most complete when we’re asleep,” show that their sound may have drastically changed, but their keen lyrics are not going away, which is undoubtedly comforting.
Similar tracks such as “Raining” give way to their well-established lyrics and sound. “Raining” is definitely refined, but it does not completely throw away The Front Bottoms’ original identity. The track is the direction of the album that would have been the best fit and most pleasing, but the others do not fall in line with it. At times, it becomes difficult to enjoy even this track because it is like a taste of what the album could have potentially been, but is nowhere near it in reality.
A new Front Bottoms album is always a plus, but “Going Grey” proves how the band is discovering a new sound and abandoning their roots. Hopefully, as the band continues to refine their sound, the synth and auto-tune are either toned down or forgotten about all together.
For diehard fans, “Going Grey” is not the album to fill the void that only The Front Bottoms are able to fill. Fans that fit that mold are better off listening to their older albums and demos.