Review Summary: Babbling their way through 2020, along with the rest of us
I feel a little bit better when listening to In Sickness & In Flames
compared to when I’m not listening to In Sickness & In Flames
, which must mean that In Sickness & In Flames
is pretty good - right? Right?!
Despite its rather bleak title and cover art, The Front Bottoms’
5th LP is by far
the most fun I’ve had listening to music in 2020. Their latest outing is 52 carefree minutes of pastel hues and soft, round edges; of stadium-sized choruses and warm, bubbly instrumentals - all strings and keys and acoustic clanging. It's easy listening epitomised, with no strings attached or barrier to entry whatsoever, save, perhaps, for it requiring a tolerance to Brian's goofy, scatterbrain approach to lyricism. Sella babbles his way through various odes to self-betterment (everyone blooms
), perplexing/heartwarming ramblings on partnership and affection (the truth
and bus beat
) and nostalgia-tinged tales of escapism and fragility (montgomery forever
), yelped with endearing urgency and character that will make you either love or loathe the indie rockers' sound.
Whilst almost certainly not an album to convert their critics, the band's latest spin on their well practiced formula may just be the thing to unite their recently divided fanbase. Brian and Mathew have managed to find a happy middle ground between the fervent, acoustic wailing for their s/t and the more polished and eclectic nature of their recent output. This is no synth-laden Going Grey
, nor a return to the frantic DIY aesthetics of their s/t, but rather the combination of these two sides of The Front Bottoms
into what is arguably their most cohesive and ambitious creative endeavour since Talon of the Hawk
. Whilst by no means straying into the remit of post-rock, there's a new found magnitude to the bois' sound; a sloppy, chaotic blend of the likes of Go Farther In Lightness
and Teens of Denial
, sporting an addictive, almost orchestral burst-and-release quality. Songs start small, slowly budding and blossoming into layered, celebratory soundscapes. the hard way
and leaf pile
are the most notable examples, erupting with colour at their respective mid-points, saving both slow burners from dampening the mood of the otherwise upbeat and well-paced LP.
During times of uncertainty, I find myself clinging to simple comforts: to shitty murder mystery dramas, unnecessarily large portions of food and just a few too many beverages for my own good. As I've begun to notice my waistband tighten and liver tire, I've found myself turning to In Sickness & In Flames
for a slightly healthier source of relief. Sophisticated and innovative it is not, but neither am I, and I kinda like me (well, sometimes
). Rambling, anthemic and overflowing with catharsis: it's a timely celebration of resilience and stubborn glee, radiating posi vibes and juvenile, giddy energy. Just learn the words, sing along and be happy.