The Front Bottoms released their second full length album, Talon of the Hawk, only last year, but they’re already back with new work, and EP Rose has progressed in leaps and bounds since the band’s sophomore album. Although it was released on CD a week and a half ago, the album will also be available as a one-sided LP with vinyl etching on 24th August.
Opening track, Flying Model Rockets, sounds like it’s on track to be a full instrumental song, before the vocals – softer than in much of their music – intertwine with the music to create a track that sounds rather like a nursery rhyme, not helped by the title lyrics. This song alone is a huge contrast to the previous tracks the band have released, especially to those off the current album, and it’s refreshing to hear the slower, more sentimental and lyrically complex work. The interesting lyricism is one of the features that makes this record so addictive – second track, Lipstick Covered Magnet, hosts the line “I’m gonna get on my knees, would you kick me in the face please? It’ll make whatever I say sound like poetry”. The changing tempo and layering of vocals takes not only this song, but many others throughout the EP away from the structured and almost fixed form that occurred frequently on Talon of the Hawk. Although I believed that to be an excellent piece when it came out, the EP has pushed the band further and shows just what they’re capable of.
Twelve Feet Deep is the closest off the record to sounding like a track from the previous album, but the lyrics still show how a creative metaphor will never go amiss (“you are water twelve feet deep and I am boots made of concrete”). The song switches between affections in a seemingly-crumbling relationship and the dilemma of a passed-out flatmate, linked together smoothly and with pace to match the two sides. Jim Bogart opens with the same romanticism as in Peach (from Talon of the Hawk), but the trait that makes this song stand out is the female vocals accompanying Brian (Sella, vocals), as opposed to him singing quotes from a lover. Hearing this at first struck sounded rather odd; after been accustomed to only one vocalist, the female presence sounded a little off, but as she is brought into the song more, it fits better. Upon listening to the song several more times, I don’t think it’s the initial shock that creates the out-of-place sound, but that at first it’s hard to distinguish a gender in the voice.
Penultimate track, Be Nice To Me, sounds the most sincere off the record – the combination of the scratchy vocals in the first verse and the stark, honest lyrics (“can we talk about this later? Your voice is driving me insane”) makes this instantly appealing. A record is always more attractive if the vocalist means what they’re singing, leading to the listener connecting with the music more, and this connection is something Brian always manages to form. The EP closes with Awkward Conversations, a track which sounds like a strange combination of Man Overboard and Brand New. Acoustic guitar mixes with simplistic yet catchy lyrics to create a sound which stays beyond the end of the EP.
If you’ve never listened to The Front Bottoms before, I guarantee that this is an excellent place to start off; the accessible and varied tracks off the record create a landmark EP for the band.