Going Grey marks a distinctive turn in The Front Bottoms’ history; they’re getting old, but they’re certainly not fading away.
Opening with the aptly titled, You Used To Say (Holy Fuck), TFB prove that their sound has evolved in an extremely positive way. Whilst enjoyable, frontman Brian Sella’s voice used to have a tinny-country style, which after a prolonged exposure could wear the attention of the audience – causing a sort of auditory fatigue. Progressing into a more natural singing style, Sella keeps the country vibes whilst eschewing the whine. Bae seems to be the song to catch live from this album, complete with a layered chorus for the crowd to perfectly fit into.
Vacation Town appears to be the most on-brand track, encompassing the traditional TFB sound in both guitars and vocals but is still lacking the head-banging nature of the most famous tracks. That, coupled with Don’t Fill Up On Chips and Grand Finale, makes the perfect welcome-pack for The Front Bottoms; these are the songs that are probably best to introduce to newer listeners. Raining remains to be my favourite song on the album, after the release of the single back in August. That, and Ocean.
Upon my first listen, my initial thought was that none of these songs appear to be as punchy and memorable as the songs from the early 2010 albums Talon of the Hawk (2013) and The Front Bottoms (2011). Songs like Maps, Flashlight and Twin Size Mattress have an unforgettable feeling amongst them. Going Grey doesn’t appear to have that same feeling, which is a pity. It’s possible that after a few listens, this could change and I’m sure die-hard ‘Bottoms fans won’t complain, but the album is certainly missing that factor from the previous efforts.
I’d certainly recommend this to anyone who’d appreciate it, but it’s certainly an evolution from the classic TFB sound. Whether this style will be permanent, or just something different remains to be seen – I’ll be happy with either. It was refreshing to hear them try something new, but I’ll certainly miss the more-folky songs. I’ll probably be listening to them until I’m going grey myself.