From the jump, I can say one thing, fans were extremely intrigued to see what The Front Bottoms was bringing to the table in 2020, since it has a minute since their previous full-length release. So, let’s turn to see if the excitement fit the result. When diving into the record, an initial reaction from front to back is that the band is giving the music scene a boxed pop punk album. When I say “boxed”, I don’t mean it in a harsh way. To further, the record feels deeply rooted in the pop punk genre, and the band does little to teeter out of that mold. In some light, this is oddly refreshing, for most works that are being released now-a-days are jam-packed with various musical genres, and that can become overwhelming at times. With this approach, the band could run into issues in terms of repetitiveness and a lack of variety, but the way that they craft their album helped them to dodge these obstacles. It is heard that the band follows the pop punk template to a tee as that relates to their aesthetic; from there, they twisted their known pop punk sound and elevated it to a more modern level. Now, I know what you’re thinking: The Front Bottoms’ sound changed??? No, no, no- that is not at all what I am saying- they bumped it up to the next level is all. The Front Bottoms took their approach to music and refined the parts that resembled a raw musical take. This is tradition to their music, so some may be off-put by this approach; however, the blend of the refined instrumental sound with the vocal timbre of the vocalist remaining the same, creates this innovative pop punk record that feels competitive but also very 2010-2014 nostalgic. Overall, I am giving this album a 4 out of 5 stars. I am giving this record such a score because the blend of the new and old style makes for a musical experience that is memorable and nostalgic. I would definitively give this record a spin if pop punk is a genre you reside in.
“everyone blooms”, “make way”, and “camouflage”
These tracks stick out when listening to the record from front to back, for they drive that ornate blend of pop punk music and the aesthetic that is The Front Bottoms. It was heard in this album that the band started to take an innovative approach to their music; however, these musical moments feel current and new, while still providing the masses with the sound they know and love. I would check out the whole record, but if you just want a preview- this is where I’d start.
When first glancing at the album cover, the first thought one may have is that the image is quite monochromatic- especially compared to their previous release “Ann”. The cover depicts a messy room with a bunch of furniture and a lot of items scattered on the floor. Although not overly crucial, it is interesting to note that the title of the record plus the name of the artist is written in a font in the center of the cover in a bold, modern font, which is something that I think will make fans go “hmm”, when comparing this to previous releases. Let’s take a turn to see if the music matches the art on the outside. When one listens to the record, it is evident that the lyrical content leans towards the dreary side of things, which correlates nicely to the darker approach to an album cover. In the same sense but opposite, on the cover, there are dashes of light shining through the window. This isn’t overwhelming to the image, nor does it take away from the darker color scheme, but it could represent the light lyrical moments that the band sprinkles here and there throughout the record to provide thematic contrast. The last connection that sticks out between the two lies between the font of the writing on the front with the overall soundscape that the band is providing with this release. As one listens to this album, it is evident that the band twisted their sound, slightly, to evolve with the times. Now, The Front Bottoms traditional sound is still enforced throughout every track, but the instrumentals that are heard drive with a more polished sound instead of their demo-like approach that listeners would be used to. This would validate why the band decided to switch to a more modern font to showcase their work. In general, I would say that the album artwork is solid, but the connect between the two help to bring the vision of this record to life.
*”In Sickness & In Flames” was released on August 21st, 2020 through Fueled by Ramen.