There’s something endearing about cold honesty. Something captivating about knowing a person is laying themselves completely bare, no pretence.
This, in essence, has been The Front Bottoms’ main attraction since their debut in 2011. Brian Sella’s cheeky self-abasement and self-aware caterwauling is a refreshing take on the idea of what a front man is. Especially in the New Jersey punk scene, two demographics well known for machismo and grandstanding.
That stark honesty carried the band to international success and a very passionate cult following that you really can’t fully appreciate unless you see them live and find yourself wrapped up in the heartfelt sing-alongs which accompany every song, an impressive bi-product of Sella’s simplistic elementary lyricism.
At times Sella’s honesty becomes stubborn and a bit too sad. He’s dragged on about failed relationships and lost connections for a decade now, and it’s a bit hard to believe that he’s continued engaging in the same unrequited love so many times.
But, lyrically the songs are fun and offbeat (literally) and they are so goddamn relatable that it hurts. As an aging fan who is trying to put the teen years behind me though, that is sometimes counter-productive.
The songs also lack closure, just like all those relationships and lost connections, and so there’s an adage for The Front Bottoms that their EPs are better than their albums because they’re shorter. It turns out that five to six songs is the right amount of Front Bottoms.
This is still realized with their latest release, a five-track EP entitled ‘Theresa’ which came out Sept 2. Theresa continues a tradition of EPs named after grandmothers.
2018’s ‘Anne’, and ‘Rose’ from 2014, were total sleeper hits for the Emo-indie band. But these short releases have been the band’s best so far, and while ‘Theresa’ falls quite short of Rose it does fulfill its place among the other grandmother EPs.
The opening track, ‘More Than it Hurts You’ is a fun little pop-tinged acoustic ballad with call-and-answer type vocal pieces pulling you into ‘Theresa’. It sounds like old Front Bottoms because it essentially is old Front Bottoms which is refreshing after 2020’s full-length ‘In Sickness & in Flames” which sounds like a shaky step forward into a maturity they weren’t ready for.
Conversely, the five songs on ‘Theresa’ are a confident step into a maturity that the band always had. A kind of goofy sad-boi lack of poetic rhyme that is still endearing despite the stubborn honesty.
‘Theresa’ doesn’t have the big songs that ‘Talon of the Hawk’ had, but it also doesn’t have the filler. This EP hits. Maybe because it’s only five songs, and five songs is the perfect amount of Front Bottoms.