The Front Bottoms - In Sickness & In Flames review


 It's no secret that The Front Bottoms are one of my all time favourite bands in the universe. I haven't reviewed their albums, but I've reviewed their shows, so I thought giving this a bash would be cool. Don't let me down, lads. 

The record opens with a song that has already been released - everybody blooms - so you get a sense of what the record is going to sound and which direction they're taking for this record. It's noted that all of the songs are written in lowercase, except for Fairbanks, Alaska due to obvious reasons.  The first song is hopeful, in its own way given that the lyrics are 'everyone blooms in their own time.' 

"don't worry, you're gonna be fine, fine, fine." rings out, and I am inclined to believe them.

The second song camouflage starts a bit wavey with ominous piano, ufo, and phone call sounds that cascade into Brian Sella's vocals. "I don't know who I am, they're probably calling the cops on me. They could tell I was having a nervous breakdown." Shit - so maybe things aren't okay. This shift is a dramatic one. Wearing camouflage to blend in is Brian's or I guess the band's way of doing it to survive. 

jerk seems to be a new kind of TFB sound - mixed with how they've always sounded. Echoing vocals with brash guitars, and then a smattering of beats. The vocals start to harmonise, and it builds upright to the end. 

the truth is reminiscent of their song Peach, citing that the person they're singing about is in fact 'the truth i choose to bend myself around,' It's a love song. It's sweet. I really like it. 

montgomery forever is a bop. I don't know who or what montgomery is, but I want it to live forever. Classic TFB sound on this one, with full band instrumentals. Lots of 'heys' to punctuate the song. The end of the song drifts to a piano part - with Sella performing a soliloquy about being not being on drugs, and that someone he knew fell in love with someone else - and that he would be happy if they were happy. 

the hard way is a hard way in the album. It drops and gets slower here. It feels dreamy, almost. violins come in, and the song crescendos.  

leaf pile does not fuck around. The intro is mighty - Manchester Orchestra scales of mighty. It's so glorious.  The mighty sound continues throughout the song to punctuate the words. "I feel anxious, do you?" "Montgomery forever. First, you get hurt then there's healing," This song is a journey -- a blur, but a journey nonetheless. The protagonist (Sella) is struggling here - he doesn't want to talk - he just wants to look out a window. He's removing himself from whatever situation he's in and getting space in order to look at it from another point. 

The longest song on the album, new song d opens with a Coldplay-esque beat, then into synthesizers and then the voices come in. "It seemed like a good day - a good day to be alive." - it then changes into a one-sided conversation between Sella and someone else. There's a lot of spoken word/singing going on in this song. Lots of harmonising voices. At the end of the song, there's another soliloquy with Sella - he wonders if he's ready. There's piano playing in the background. Ominous stuff.

Fairbanks, Alaska is a song about seeing the northern lights in surprisingly, Fairbanks, Alaska. This song is another sonic journey that flows and ebbs and it's pretty tight.  

love at first sight is an amalgamation, much like the other songs on this album are. You can tell they're trying to be experimental with all the sounds that slide in together under Sella's voice. Then there's an evangelical sound blended with a drum beat to finish the song.

bus beat has Sella proclaiming that love has no bounds, then in comes Sella's spoken word type singing about how he does things because that's the way his baby likes it. I wish I could be the baby in person talking here but sadly, no. The hook of the 'because that's the way my baby likes it' is prominent throughout the song. 'Whether in sickness or in flames' - WAHEY WE HAVE THE ALBUM TITLE. Excellent. 

make way slows the fuck down, there's violins, piano, and a light drum beat. It turns into a great toetapper. The album starts in a hopeful note but then this seems to change into insecurity. "it's like i'm wearing a mask" "My name is Stephen but that doesnt make it right." Because his name isn't Stephen - I swear. He's said this in another song but it's been debunked. So what is he hiding behind? The violin in this song is beautiful and adds to Sella's vocals. 

This is the dawn of a new tfb i think. It's a grower, not a shower I think. I'm gonna give it 4 stars. Less of a party good time band but now one that looks inward - which isn't a bad thing at all. 

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