It’s no secret that I have a tiny bit of an obsession with New Jersey’s The Front Bottoms. After discovering their rough cut early releases whilst going through the most gut wrenching loss imaginable, I clung on to their painstakingly honest tongue-in-cheek confessions. For the past four years, I have let the gracious imperfections of their sound become an endearing soundtrack of perseverance and growth.
Since their signing to Fueled By Ramen in 2015 the band have flourished, and have come to be one of the most well deserving figureheads of the softer alternative punk movement.
‘Raining’ is the first single to be released from the The Front Bottoms’ upcoming album ‘Going Grey’. It marks another step further for a band who paved their somewhat unlikely path to major label success through word-of-mouth basement shows and a cult-like fan following.
A simple acoustic chord repetition, accented with some Beach Boys-esque ‘ooh’s’ break in the opening verse of ‘Raining’, with the vocal slotting along the top with ease. Brian Sella’s voice is unmistakable, his thick accent twangs and breaks over the predictably crestfallen opening lines: “It was raining when they let me out of the hospital, I had nothing in my pockets, still had the bracelet on.”
There’s something delicately bewitching in the way the song builds. Sella’s voice is the initial focus, and the genuine emotion it carries is sure to spark interest in both new and returning audiences. As the song begins to elapse layers of instruments weave themselves in organically; before in true paradoxical Front Bottoms style the chorus breaks through in a triumphant cascade of percussion and guitar. It’s joyfully downhearted, like a self-indulgent lonely dance in a darkened bedroom.
As the song progresses handfuls of calculated sounds, riffs and hooks jumble into the narrative. The highlight of the song is by far the central breakdown, marked by a pronounced silvery echo of “I feel absolute fantastic” and followed with a fresh array of mini-solos and eccentricities. Off-beat and irregular, with heavier sounding instruments ‘Raining’ could be a pop-punk masterpiece; but with no hint of harsh bite it takes on a far more cordial hazy dream-like stature.
From the opening of the track the elevated production values are clear. The sound is crisp and flows smoothly, but is defiantly stamped with the band’s trademark raw around the edges charm. For many long-time fans of the band, these steps away from their gritty original recordings may mark a seeming loss of their original DIY ethic, but this is a band maturing with skilful clarity and fidelity to their core. Though ‘Raining’ may not go down as one of The Front Bottoms most heartfelt renditions, it is certainly one of their most poised, making the anticipated release of ‘Going Grey’ on October 13th all the more intriguing.