POZ Review: The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk

Based out of Bergen County, New Jersey, The Front Bottoms stand as a two-man band. Brian Sella (vocals, guitar) and Matthew Uychich (drums) don’t really label themselves under a genre, but for the most part, their songs are a collective combination of acoustic, indie, punk and dance music. The Front Bottom’s fourth album, Talon of the Hawk recently came out and it’s swinging in the summer breeze.

Starting an album with the words “Au Revoir” seems a bit out there, but the track has so much angst bottled up behind the acoustic guitar strumming that it’s the perfect instigator. “Skeleton” follows, and Sella’s lines gets more witty as he sings about getting so stoned and falling asleep in the front seat of his car.

Upon reading the title, one would assume that “Twin Size Mattress” is a song about a bad one-night stand in a college dorm, but that is not the case. “This is for the snakes and the people they bite. For the friends I’ve made, for the sleepless nights. For the warning signs I’ve completely ignored. There’s an amount to take, reasons to take more,” Sella sings.

“Peach” sweetens the taste of the album, focusing on that special someone who makes you smile for no reason at all. Yeah, it’s cute, but there’s something sour about the way Sella says, “It’s just so hard to see tomorrow past tonight” after admitting that he’s stoned. We experience these fleeting moments of happiness and then they are overshadowed by dark afterthoughts.

On “Santa Monica,” Sella talks about being an “emotional baby boy” who desires to get drunk on the beach and make-out with someone. He’s always playful in his initial approach, but digs deeper into the relationship.

For instance, in the next track, “The Feud,” Sella breaks down the scenario of a couple fighting word for word: “And she says, ‘Tell me what I need to hear, what I wanna hear or else.’ I call her baby, I ask her to sit down, ask her to sit down, and allow me to try to explain myself.”

The same can be said about “Funny You Should Ask.” Between begging the sexy Chelsea to speak French to him, Sella admits to making mistakes in his past. “Cause I was young, I thought I didn’t have to care about anything. But I’m older now and know that I should,” he sings. (You can’t deny that you haven’t dropped a line like that in a conversation before.)

“Tattooed Tears” brings up the unfortunate dismay of an inconvenient love, something we have all experienced in some form at one point or another in our lives. If everything you’ve ever thought in this type of situation got turned into a song, this would be it. It’s not like the movies— there will be no music when the kiss happens and you can’t always listen to your heart.

“Lone Star” discusses how the turmoil of teen pregnancy affects both individuals in the relationship. It really hits the listener as Brian inserts himself into the song when his girlfriend begs him to pray for them. The closing track, “Everything I Own,” encourages listeners to enjoy moments while they last. Live for now, have a good time, and keep it real. This is when you know that Sella is being honest with the listener. He’s trusting us to hear him out, willingly letting us into his mind and his world.

The high level of velocity and volume in that The Front Bottoms deliver on Talon of the Hawk makes every song such a pleasure to listen to in any mood. Sella and Uychich balance the album between stripped down tracks and songs with a fuller sound provided by crashing drums and poppy beats. It’s hard to believe that all of this sound is only coming from two talented individuals. The lyrics are well written, telling a variety of complex stories in a sophisticated and polished manner.

While the listener may not always be able to relate to all the memories of cross-faded nights mentioned in Talon of the Hawk, they can connect on an emotional level and that’s what really counts. As Sella says, “There are lessons to be learned, consequences for all the stupid things I say.”

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