The Front Bottoms
The Front Bottoms
By Al Kaufman
One thing is sure; Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich, who play acoustic guitar and drums respectively, and make up the folk-punk band The Front Bottoms, have had their hearts ripped out through their noses a few times. It’s a safe bet to assume that this began around high school and they they have never quite moved passed it.
On their self-titled CD, Sella whines his way – in a very endearing and self-deprecating kind of way – through a bunch of situations that, although they may make us question his sanity, are also ones that we may have been involved in, or at least thought about, ourselves. On “Flashlight” he waits for his ex-girlfriend to fall asleep so that he can take pictures of her and hang them in his room and act like they never broke up. Alright, maybe they’re not all experiences that we have thought about. But Sella spits out his lyrics with such passion, invective and, ultimately, self-loathing, that he does not even bother to make it rhyme. He’s an angry kid whose girlfriend just broke up with him who’s on the verge of a bender. Who can’t relate to that?
The same themes run throughout the CD. On another break-up song, “Maps,” he sings that he has “big, big, plans,” but can already see them falling away. On “Legit Tattoo Gun” he says, “I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy she hooked up with that night,” before surmising, “Probably not.”
But it gets even more pathetic. On “The Beers,” he reminisces, “I will remember that summer as the summer I was taking steroids, because you like a man with muscles.” He opens “Swimming Pool” with the line, “There is comfort in the bottom of a swimming pool/I’m holding my breath for you.” In this case, it is him breaking up with her (after asking her how low can her self-esteem go), but you get the feeling he is just trying to beat her to the punch. On “Hooped Earrings,” his ex-girlfriend reminds him he needs to call her mother, a woman he hardly knows, for Mother’s Day. But the song takes a quick turn and he advises his ex on what she needs to do to make her mother happy. At least, that’s what it seems to be about. The song, like many others on here, veer off-topic and never quite come back. But the mood seems to fit that ADHD mixed with depression diagnosis that anyone who has taken Psych 101 would pin on Sella.
There is a little more than failed romances on here. The Front Bottoms have that sort of smarmy, Blink-182 attitude about them. On “Mountain,” Sella sings of skateboarding and shooting off fireworks, before mentioning that he will probably get arrested for the illegal fireworks. Whether he’s boasting or resigned to the fact is difficult to tell. His character is pathetic enough that it is probably a little of both. And, of course, he dreams of murdering his dad on “Father,” a song that is ultimately about a love/hate relationship with his girlfriend.
Yes, 12 songs of emo boy self loathing is a bit much, but Uychich’s drums keep things moving along and Sella mixes in acoustic power chords with some clever finger picking. They throw in the occasional horn or banjo for some variety, making for an overall consistent sound. But you just can’t help but hope they both find the right girl out there somewhere.
The Front Bottoms will be released September 6. The band plays WonderRoot on September 5.