REVIEW: The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk

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Band: The Front Bottoms
Album: Talon of the Hawk
Genre: Punk/Acoustic
Label: Bar/None Records

I initially wrote The Front Bottoms off because I thought they were something hipster kids listened to while smoking out in their parents’ suburban basement. I will admit that. I hold really hard preconceptions, and I don’t know why, but that’s how I’ve always been. However, when one of my best friends told me that I needed to listen to The Front Bottoms, I decided to revisit the group because I figured they must have something good going on. When I first heard their self-titled record, I was blown away. It was super catchy, fun, and simply easy to listen to. All those preconceptions instantly vanished and I found myself suddenly becoming a fan. I was excited to be given the opportunity to review Talon of the Hawk, but I have to say I was also nervous to listen because I did not want my perception of The Front Bottoms to change yet again. I had no idea what the band could do next, as I feel a lot of bands in the same vein as The Front Bottoms just put out the same record over and over again. Luckily, I soon learned I had no real reason to be afraid.

I have been listening to Talon of the Hawk for a couple weeks now, and one of the most noticeable differences between this record and the other works of The Front Bottoms is a more apparent fullness in sound. Anyone who has seen The Front Bottoms over the course of the past year or so noticed additional musicians in the lineup, and you can hear that this album was written with them in mind. With more instruments and sounds coming your way, Talon of the Hawk is a more polished record that has a lot more going on than the surface. That is in no way trying to discredit their previous works, but you can really hear the way the band came into their own on this record. Just to be clear, The Front Bottoms did not sacrifice their infectious, stripped down sound, though. The acoustic guitar is still the forefront of all the songs, but with just more instruments accenting throughout. There is never a song on the record where I think, “Man, didn’t I just hear this song?” which is a feat in and of itself, because frankly I get really bored of acoustic songs after the first few. The Front Bottoms keep the record pressing onward, never lingering on an idea or sound for too long. “Twin Sized Mattress” is a great example of the progression the boys have made while still sticking to the music everyone has already fallen in love with. In an industry where every single writer abuses the word “progression” and uses it synonymously with “change,” The Front Bottoms show what progression actually means.

Lyrically, Talon of the Hawk is a league ahead of their other releases in my humble opinion. The Front Bottoms’ lyrics have always been one of the more endearing parts of the band to me, because I have always loved the way they tell stories in a way that is accessible to everyone. Sure, I will never be able to relate to the stories about being high throughout the record (most notably on “Skeleton”) but somehow The Front Bottoms still find a way to get me to totally understand what they are trying to say. But I think where the band really stepped up on this release is not completely spelling everything out for the listener. There is a lot more ambiguity, which I think makes it all the more wonderful. One of my favorite songs on the record, “I Swear to God The Devil Made Me Do It,” perfectly encapsulates the inspiration behind my own creativity in the bridge, saying “I just want this to mean something to anybody even if they don’t know who I am.” It is these little gems throughout the record that keep you engaged, listening, and wanting to delve more into the mind of The Front Bottoms.

Talon of the Hawk is one of those records that is going to get a lot more people interested in The Front Bottoms. Their self-titled record was a wonderful record that I truly fell in love with, but Talon of the Hawk is an album I feel more people will be able to connect with in a very intense way. The record screams late Summer nights with friends, and that is really going to play in the band’s favor once Talon of the Hawk drops. I for one will be listening to this a lot on late night metro rides home from house shows in Northern Virginia, but I am sure everyone will have that place where this record really fits. Simply put, Talon of the Hawk is a record you are going to want to buy.

SCORE: 9/10
Written By: Tyler Osborne (Click his name to follow him on Twitter)

Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio (www.facebook.com/tozedgeradio). I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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