This Froth article was written by Oliver Lunel, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Kieran Stowell
Froth’s LP “Bleak” sees the L.A. band depart from the sunny psych-rock that defined their debut effort, ramping up the amplifiers and dirtying their guitar tone with a liberal coating of garage-rock fuzz.
The band’s transition to behemoth label Burger Records, whose impressive catalogue features the likes of The Black Lips, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, makes a notable impression on the aesthetic of their latest effort; Froth is still writing the same syrupy, melodic tracks which characterized their first album “Patterns”, this time with an injection of raw, punk-rock energy which gives ‘Bleak’ a welcome boost.
The opening track “Afternoon” is a perfect illustration of Froth’s musical evolution, a muted introduction is punctured by an ear-splitting swirl of woozy guitar leads, Ashworth and Ventura emulating the tremolo technique so fundamental to shoe gazing institution My Bloody Valentine.
Katz’ thunderous bass tone, a prominent feature throughout the song and provides an essential counterpoint to the chaos, anchoring the song with a refreshing, bitter-sweet warmth, however it only just saves it from melancholy.
The driving bassline of ‘Postcard Radio’ opens out into a catchy pop-anthem which is deliberately deceptive; lyrics such as “my foot was in the doorway / you tried to cut my toes off” which segue into a groaning chorus of “oh no, oh no, oh no” begs the listener to look past the frontman’s hazy façade to the heartbreak and anguish beneath.
Ashworth’s acceptance of his doomed relationship is followed by stripped-back ballad ‘Nothing Baby’, a raw confession of personal inadequacy backed by a shimmering synthesizer and guitar chimes which could easily slot in The Jesus and Mary Chain’s back-catalogue.
Sighs of “oh there’s nothing, baby, I can give to you” and “I won’t talk to you if you don’t want me to” are concluded by a lengthy guitar dirge which leads out into the highlight of the album.
“On My Chest” explodes with sexual energy and a renewed burst of psychedelic passion, As Allen and Katz lock into their familiar groove, the lyrics are slurred and shouted over improvised guitar leads which sound freshly jammed out in the studio, rescuing ‘Bleak’ from its downward spiral.
“Turn It Off” attempts to chase the high with a surf-punk vigour, but instead suffers from repetitive riffs and clichéd lyrics such as “she washes her soul away” this is somewhat disappointing follow-up to the album’s leading track.
Frenetic instrumental “Richard Like Grey Sky /Untitled (Feedback)” is a welcome return to form; almost two full minutes of lo-fi string scrapings and howling guitar solos which rebel against the uniformity of the previous track, even bleeding over into “Saccharine Sunshine”, a spectacular homage to the “60’s sound” which pervades Froth’s latest release.
As if determined not to end on a high note, the album performs an unwelcome nosedive into the title track “Bleak” amid discordant swells of fuzzed out guitar and a thoroughly unmemorable melody.
Likewise, ‘Sleep Alone’ is a bewildering acoustic conclusion to the LP; the sparse instrumentation and rugged vocals are clearly intended to compliment the singer’s heartfelt farewell to his former lover, yet the resulting ode seems oddly jarring and naive
“Bleak” is an album of contradictions; a curious sonic mishmash which produces, at times, astounding gems of garage-rock mastery amongst the trial-and-error inconsistencies of a band still searching for their unique sound. Froth is, undeniably, a band to watch for the future.