Talon of the Hawk
Bar None Records
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s simplicity. That, and songs I can relate to. The Front Bottoms’ latest effort Talon of the Hawk perfectly encompasses both of those things, and before I start, I do want it to go on record that I’m calling this a strong contender for #3 at least in my end of year list.
Amusingly so, Talon of the Hawk is kicked off with a track that doesn’t even stretch to two minutes in length. However, Au Revoir – Adios manages to set the bar for the entire album. Brian Sella’s strained vocals and raw lyricism against very little music tell of a failed relationship, but refreshingly so, the cliché of this story is averted with the introduction of a full band effort midway through shouting about Rock n’ Roll and being misunderstood which hooks you in, in a way that only The Front Bottoms know how.
From there, the casual narrative doesn’t let up as Sella begins to bear all, and whilst his partner Matt Uychich does incredibly well to provide a steady beat to his band mate’s musings and the session musicians work relentlessly to provide a juxtaposing noise of jingling guitars and soft keyboard interludes, Sella’s lyricism feels like it could also work on its own as a spoken word piece. It tells of highs and lows, from Skeleton pulling on your heart strings as you remember every failed relationship and fuck up, to Twin Size Mattress pulling the pace back to an almost stand-still. It’s at this point that the band really comes together, and since up to now it’s been The Brian Sella Show, the track details the importance of friendship and pursuing everything you want to do, and it quickly becomes clear that no matter how you’re feeling, The Front Bottoms have a track to match it.
But after the calm comes the danceable indie-pop storm and with vocal styling that would give Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge a run for his money and catchy guitar riffs that should be the soundtrack to your summer, Talon of the Hawk just goes from strength to strength. There’s not much to it really, you don’t really have to sit and think about the lyrics, there’s no ambiguity, and with the likes of The Feud and Backflip proving that this whole album is nothing but a guy telling a series of anecdotes whilst his band mates regularly provide indistinguishable backing chants and 2005-style keyboard sequences.
Granted, The Front Bottoms may not be anywhere near performing in front of thousands of people on a huge stage with these kind of songs, but who cares? Give me a dingy bar, a disgusting beer and a few of my closest friends to sing along to this with over that any day. It’s important to recognise that Talon of the Hawk is a much bigger, more ambitious effort than 2011’s eponymous debut. There’s a fine blend of mature lyricism, and downright fun musical experimentation and if nothing else, this record should make you want to say ‘fuck it.’