Review Summary: get bent
Obnoxious and opulent, “Invest in Breakfast” immediately throws Frosting
’s cards in your face. Its uneasy blend of hyperpop with a blaring brass melody turns the opener into a successful cry for attention as its slapdash structure constantly writhes about. It’s indicative of the following tracks: chock full of prancing synths, autotuned vocals, and similar fluff. The record seems born out of a need to cement Bent Knee’s ever-shifting avant persona, that they’re a band willing to try anything and everything to the point of exhaustion. Moments like the ear-splitting interlude “Pause” make it feel like we’re being laughed at rather than laughed with, and the feeling is mutual.
However, the album works more often than not. “Baby in the Bush” works as a much more palatable counterpart to the band’s rambunctious side, building an ambient soundscape that intermittently breaks out into venomous synth riffs and churning beats. It’s a similar effect to the aggro/lounge push and pull of “OMG,” keeping the audience looking over their shoulder for the next lurch into hell. Indeed, the strongest moments of this album are its heaviest. While the lack of groove that these constant changeups create harms the poppier offerings (barring “Queer Gods,” which functions as the album’s token Bop), the album’s abrasiveness imbues its few rockers like “The Upward Spiral” with a reckless thunder. When it comes to Bent Knee, their brashest moments remain the best.
Not to say the band is incapable of tact—they occasionally manage to play it straight for entire tracks at a time. “Set it Off” and “The Floor Is Lava” are straightforward ballads, convincingly heartfelt in their own right. The former’s piano croons are drenched in a sparse yet haunting atmosphere, and the latter in particular is as cutesy as the album gets—to its surprising benefit. But by the point these songs appear, we’re defensive, constantly expecting something jarring to snap us out of the temporary peace. The album works so hard to keep its audience on edge that it’s hard to take “seriousness” seriously in the rare moment it arises. Maybe this is part of the fun.
Gimmicky is not the word. Bent Knee may be channeling the vacillating bombast of bands like The Voidz or 100gecs, but they don’t come off as desperate enough to earn that descriptor. Unlike many of these related artists, they have little to prove. Perhaps Frosting
is the opposite story: a band so comfortable that they’re able to say “*** it” and dive into their kaleidoscopic experimentation without restraint. There’s a power to everything here, no matter how loose or annoying, and you might be surprised by what captures you.