With two years since the release of Back On Top and five years since the self-titled record that sent The Front Bottoms spiraling headfirst into the world of pop punk, the announcement of Going Grey left everyone wondering if the band would return to their extremely raw, unplugged sound that fans originally fell in love with in favor of their newer sound. After reading the title of the intro song to Going Grey, “You Used To Say (Holy F*ck)”, I was immediately taken back to the early days of The Front Bottoms: carefree, full of emotion, and so honest it hurts.
The opening number begins with the sound of waves crashing, and the tranquil company of seagulls. I found myself holding my breath waiting for what was about to happen, before I was met by the voice of lead singer Brian Sella and a steady beat from drummer Mat Uychich supporting his every word. The main chorus has a beat drop and some heavy synthesizer sounds, which is different from the “old” TFB sound. Nonetheless, the raw manner of Sella’s voice and blunt, angst-fueled lyrics as he sings, “Angry for no reason and twisted up inside, holy fuck I’m about to die,” hit me with a serious sense of teenage nostalgia.
“Vacation Town,” the fourth song on the album, is one of the best, due to the heartbreaking lyrics accompanied by an upbeat tune, and the unique, classical trumpet that can occasionally be found in the band’s past material. The inclusion of the trumpet introduces a light, optimistic tone to the track, contrasting with the story Sella tells: “I could only express my love when I’m fucked up or far, far away. Physically another continent, emotionally another headspace, mentally I’m not even here.”
One of the reasons I’m so fond of this album is because Sella has gone back to lyrics such as those in “Vacation Town,” which are relatable to anyone who has experienced real pain. Still, the band partners them with tunes that succeed in turning your sorrows into a sense of feeling okay. They provide a sound that you can jump into and get lost inside, even if just for a couple of minutes.
Track number six, “Grand Finale,” is arguably my least favorite song on the album. At first listen, nothing much about this one stuck out to me besides the catchy chorus, and Sella’s voice was drowned out by the rest of the noise. Despite this, I can appreciate how much Uychich’s talent on the drums is highlighted.
“It was raining when they let me out of the hospital, I had nothing in my pockets. Still had the bracelet on. You and me get the chills at the same time, who would have thought? The exact vibrations,” Sella sings in “Raining,” another favorite off of Gone Grey. While the beginning of the song is simple, containing just a guitar and Sella’s voice, my attention was immediately captured. The repeated lyrics, “How do you think that felt for me?” and “To fall asleep would take some magic,” are words that listeners will be triumphantly singing to during live shows and remembering for a lifetime.
Although this album is full of new classics, my favorite has to be “Everyone But You.” The sound of the guitar is just present enough to not be overbearing, Sella’s voice is loud and empowering, and the drums are right where they should be the whole time. And although the instrumental backing for this song is great, the lyrics steal the show. The angsty, cheesy, romantic and lame honesty make the song fun, and I see this one being a new fan favorite during live shows.
Sella singing, “It doesn’t get worse, it doesn’t get better. You just get old, it lasts forever. Can’t get happy, can’t get sad. It’s hard to do, when I hate everyone but you,” is a perfect example of how The Front Bottoms are notorious for taking lyrics that are sometimes so sappy and dramatic that it’s humorous, and molding them into an upbeat track that you can’t help but feel inspired by.
Ultimately, Going Grey is an important album for this band. Although I have noticed a change in the sound, everything just feels more real this time around. With lyrics like “You be Rachel, I’ll be bong rips-we’ll get high all day” and the fact that the first song is titled with the words “Holy Fuck,” the band didn’t hold anything back. When all is said and done, Going Grey perfectly embodies what the guys of The Front Bottoms aim to create: something that is completely honest, full of emotion, and a celebration of heartbreak, love, and life.
REVIEW BY EMILY GORDON