I usually start every review with some declaration of how long I’ve waited for new music from a particular artist. Even if there’s truth behind every declaration, I’d like to avoid being predictable. So, in the spirit of the release of The Front Bottoms‘ new album, Talon of the Hawk, this will be a completely different experience.
I have to admit I’m a little biased when it comes to The Front Bottoms. Their self-titled surprised me and completely opened my perception of independent sound, but I chose to be skeptical towards Talon of the Hawk. Surely no one could make great music two albums in a row.
I was wrong. They’ve surpassed the sophomore slump with Talon of the Hawk, providing, perhaps, the better of their full length albums. There are songs of all sorts, ranging from melancholy to playful, giving it a substantial nature. It’s not shallow, with a limited spectrum of subject matters covered, but versatile in the messages it delivers.
I guess my enfolding analysis of the album can start with the first single released, “Twin Size Mattress.” One of the slower songs on the album, it consists of verses aimed at contradicting relationships. The best example of that is the line, “You stopped by my house the night you escaped/with tears in my eyes/I begged you to stay/You said hey man I love you/but no fucking way.” Typical dilemma between lovers, yes, but the song continues on to talk about saving friendships despite the hardships and getting over past loves with the help of said friendships. Avoiding the eventual downfall of being left alone and just adding to the chaos.
Okay, so maybe that subject matter has been covered and there’s not much spice left to it. But The Front Bottoms handle the rest of the album in a phenomenal fashion. “Au Revoir,” the first track, is an interesting introduction. Only half the usual length, it’s catchy and silly. Some other points of interest include, “Swear to God the Devil Made Me Do It,” “Peach,” “Funny You Should Ask,” and “Everything I Own.” Each handling their content in an incredibly creative way, these songs serve as reminders of the band’s abilities.
“Swear” is sort of romantic. The lines “I know CPR/I know mouth to mouth/ when your legs give in/and your lungs give out/I will blow air into your open mouth” sound like an attempt at romance. “Peach” starts off with a declaration of love with things like, “You are the reason I’m smiling/when there is nothing to smile about” and “I bet you will find someone who will love you like you deserve/but I’m betting that’s a fact that you will never learn.” It turns a little melodramatic, but isn’t that love anyway?
“Funny You Should Ask” and “Everything I Own” follow suit, with a silly perspective on life and love. “Funny” has quickly become my favorite though, for the lyrics. Things like, “the good thing about this cast is I can still hold a knife/so if you ever twist my arm again/ I’ll be sure to put up a fight” and “Cause you were young/you thought you didn’t have to care about anyone/but you’re older now/and wish that you could” tickle my fancy.
I guess my only complaint about the album is how tricky picking up on some of the issues can be. At the surface, each song seems to be about just about relationships. There’s mentions of other issues, but overall, this album is driven by desire. But in all fairness, art is expression of the things we know, so that puts some drive behind the stubborn.
Overall, Talon of the Hawk proves The Front Bottoms are capable of so much more. Their self-titled offered a glimpse of what they could do, but this album is so much greater. It’s definitely my favorite of the year thus far; I haven’t stopped listening.