I was wondering why all the hipsters in my life went crazy. I was wondering why every high school girl I dated started foaming at the mouth; why every guy with a beard and man-bun ripped off their flannel, tossing aside their kombucha, started jumping through the windows of record stores.
And I found the answer: when I listened to The Front Bottom’s new record, Back on Top.
There are a couple of reasons why I think the group’s 5th record struck a chord with so many folks around my age – born in the mid-90s.
We’re all about the age when we feel like we need to do something crazy and rebellious. I recently moved to Midtown with my ballerina girlfriend, grew a mustache, play jazz and make coffee for a living and like doing stupid stuff with my equally as stupid friends.
This is a theme that Back on Top addresses quite frequently. Going to parties, hanging out, figuring out life, dancing, rocking out, and being emotionally strung out on relationships and our new found feeling of independence – and all with the looming reality that we have to grow up at some point.
Stuff to which kids in their early 20s can relate.
Not you? Is it just me?
But the lyrics and the way these ideas are expressed aren’t trite – they wax poetic. They’re genuine and heartfelt. You can feel this guy’s struggle.
Especially the rap verse at the end of “Historic Cemetery.”
But I can’t help but note that at times the rebellious attitude feels a little bit contrived like they’re trying to market themselves to young folks.
The second reason is that they just sound like bands we liked when we were even younger than we are now with heavy influences of early indie rock.
Not the foo-foo Sufjan Stevens fluff, but Pavement, early Death Cab, Dinosaur Jr., Weezer, The Smiths, REM, Nirvana, Modest Mouse, Joy Division, and New Order.
The 90s – and definitely their sound – is popular right now. I know because that’s what I know. I was born to young artists living in Oakland in the 90s who did nothing but have the time of their lives despite their poorness.
This record makes you want to let down your hair, be rough around the edges, and shotgun a PBR.
Speaking on being rough around the edges: this albums apparent lack. The production is so clean; the players are so together, this record lack the grungy sound I feel it tries to invoke with the exception of a few voice cracks from Brian Sella. Usually, I applaud god production, musicianship, and well-executed vocals, however, it has to fit the genre. These guys have come a long way from playing garages and house parties like they used to.
That being said, there is no telling whether they made the decision to sound clean or not. Now that they’re signed, the label often makes production choices to better represent the label.
All things considered, I really enjoyed this record. It made me feel nostalgic for times I haven’t experienced, which is a tough thing to do.
Devan is a dj for KSSU