The Front Bottoms have released their label debut. That’s something that I never thought that I’d type four years ago when being introduced to the group. They were great then, sure – but they were great along the lines of, ‘Hey, these guys are kind of cool. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re having fun making music.’ Since then, more people have latched on to the band and grown to appreciate them for what they are – a fun indie band with acoustic and pop punk that never take themselves too seriously. That attitude has worked for the band. They’ve played on some amazing tours and they’ve earned tons of critical praise – and it’s been earned.
With their new debut “Back on Top”, the Front Bottoms have irony as somewhat of a general theme. The title is of course ironic and frontman Brian Sella manages to craft songs that hit on that irony but tell stories at the same time. It’s an interesting combination that fits with the band’s punk-infused indie alt rock really well. The music needs to be addressed as something that’s grown and evolved with this band more than most. They started out just as an acoustic outfit, now they’ve grown and evolved into the workings of a full band sound with awesome electric guitar work and even some horns. They’re never anything less than amazing on this new album.
If I do have a gripe with the latest Front Bottoms release it’s that they didn’t manage to put together something that feels like a complete listen. There’s a lot of steam lost in the second half of the record and at times they experiment just a tad too much. There’s some rapping on this album, and it fit it would be fine, but it really doesn’t. The rapping is on “Historic Cemetery” and it’s by GDP. It could have worked but the song doesn’t match the flow and it ended up hurting the song. There’s bits like that here and there throughout the album that for whatever reason just didn’t click with me. They might click with you.
The Front Bottoms “Back on Top” is a really good album. It’s far from perfect, but that’s exactly who the Front Bottoms are meant to be. They’re a lovably flawed band that has a niche audience. The cool thing about them having a label now is that niche audience can grow. The Flaming Lips have had a niche audience for decades now. Here’s hoping that the Front Bottoms can get something similar.