The Front Bottoms create a townhouse type of love that makes you want to shake a
tambourine to release years worth of tension from petty angst. Generally, punk tugs at my heartstrings because of how well the genre targets emotion while still maintaining distance; this is an artform I tend to appreciate as I consider differences to be as valuable as similarities when making bridges between hearts. However, The Front Bottoms do distinguish themselves from other punk bands, such as the Sex Pistols, because of their deliberate call to the individual to reevaluate their situation from a personal standpoint. Sure, the songs carry angst, but they deliver from the desire to running away by addressing the desire to escape head on.
The album is led by the familiar voice of Brian Sella who carries a sweet edge to the Jersey rock approach. “Ann” starts out with “Today Is Not Real.” This song is short and sweet with typical signatures from the band, such as heavy drums and blues guitar riffs. This song in particular also intros with a violin before Sella starts singing about how his heart drops to his feet, and there being nothing we can do about it. Here we see an introduction to his desire and plans with this girl, Ann. “If it wasn’t for the changes, I’d probably die,” this is a personal favorite quote from this song because it resonates with the entanglement that comes from feeling with another person. Where there is building, there’s also breaking, and this cycle is what propels us forward to continue moving through life itself. The song also addresses how quickly life goes by when succumbing to pain.
The next song is titled “Somebody Else.” Again, The Front Bottoms deliver a hearty guitar and drums combination that creates a catchy yet emotionally appealing hook. I found Sella really yelling in this song, and I enjoy it deeply. He has a talent for carrying the energy of the song through his voice alone, giving the instruments their own personal storylines, eventually tying together. When viewing how the album ties into “Ann,” this song emphasizes how the silence in between the songs surprises him. This is not by any means relatable, but I must say The Front Bottoms carry a unison for timeless emotions of observing a girl’s mind, and if you’re clueless like me, listening to this album might give you some insight into how you might be viewed by someone you’re trying to piece together.
The next song, “I Think Your Nose Is Bleeding,” takes a somewhat more electronic and upbeat tone that takes a break from the problematic side of the relationship. If you could imagine a summer romance full of getting in trouble and chasing mutual goals, this song could be the soundtrack to that dear movie. It speaks of how badly Sella wants to get his number out of a girl’s phone because she only chases him out of pits of loneliness. Here we find ourselves halfway through the album with a neat set up of a give-and-take relationship with no real label or boundaries but an assurance of overthinking.
“Pale Beneath the Tan (Squeeze)” is an encouraging song about how when it all boils down, there’s a need for all people to stay alive and keep working because of we can all limit ourselves to just being our bodies. This song is full of good lyrics, such as: “And a man who knows what he’s talking, spoke to me today / He said that no one’s going to listen ’til you mean every word you say / So if you can’t find the feeling, you better learn to lie / And if you know we’re gonna fail, then there’s no point to even try.” These lyrics really spoke to me because I always find myself trapped between the desire of just living through routine and the burning passion of desire. This song really tells me to find a place without pain, you can’t convince yourself of laughter. There’s always further redemption in actually knowing how you feel and working towards the next feeling. Sella offers Ann to borrow his sunshine in his next song, “Lonely Eyes,” by reminding her that no one’s really got that happiness that she so badly needs. He can give her his company and spend time with her instead of constructing the visions that convince her of despair.
The last song on this album is “Tie Dye Dragon,” a song about Sella being on LSD at family parties and talk shows. He takes the name of tie-dye dragon. The bridge takes a turn and addresses how he feels the disparity between himself and who he wants to be, repeating how confusing everything is throughout his life. “Guided by confused light; I see the future in mysterious ways,” Sella says, most likely talking about his trips bringing him light in ways he might’ve not expected. I like how he doesn’t complain, he just explains.
This album is surely sweet, but if I had to explain it any way, I’d say the band in general carries this helpful and endearing scene of a young boy’s journey throughout time and experience. Other super neat albums include “The Front Bottoms” and “Talon of the Hawk,” but I chose “Ann” because it was a
breath of fresh air, and sure enough, having a girl as a muse to music does make it all that much better.