'Barriers'- Frank Iero and the Future Violents / Turned Up Louder
Frank Iero is a name that anyone who even dipped a toe into the infamous mid-noughties’ emo scene will undoubtedly recognise in a heartbeat. However, since the day that thousands of Killjoys’ fragile hearts shattered and eyeliner ran down faces in black rivers, Frank Iero hasn’t stopped churning out raw, heartfelt records that resonate just as powerfully with his core following in their own right. Skipping like a skimming stone across a range of varying band names, and with a stylistic and tonal shift accompanying each new incarnation, Iero and his newly christened ‘Future Violents’ – made up of Evan Nestor, Matt Armstrong, Tucker Rule and Kayleigh Goldsworthy – have not always had an easy ride. Following a horrific bus crash in Sydney during the band’s 2016 Australian tour that left much of the band with both physical and mental scars, the question was posed of the outfit leaving music all together. Thankfully, after taking time to recuperate, they returned, and are now releasing their latest record ‘Barriers’, following on from their 2018 EP ‘The Coffins are Coming’. Filled with Frank’s idiosyncratic vocals and unique, crumbly guitar tones, ‘Barriers’, according to Iero, centres around ‘experiences that were either walls I wanted to break down or walls that I’d built up around myself in order to protect myself’. That dichotomy that presents itself in the record’s unpredictability, which comes laced with dependable common undertones across it’s mammoth 14 track wingspan.
Gospel-esque organs herald the arrival of opener ‘A New Day’s Coming’, which marries breathy vocals, with warm, ruminating guitars: regal and haunting in the way it grows and flowers like a burgeoning sunrise. Lead single ‘Young and Doomed’ brings an injection of pace, packed with treble-infused guitar fuzz and a fist-pumping chorus, kept rollicking and riding by the perforating drums, while isolated piano notes frame Iero’s unfiltered, pitching and falling vocals on ‘Ode to Destruction’ juxtaposing the brittle guitars that sound as if they were filtered through sandpaper. Yet another guaranteed headbanger is ‘Fever Dream’, which blends trickling, taunting piano notes with a waspish guitar tone, and a bassline that drips unctuously, over all of which the authenticity of Iero’s trembling vocals works perfectly.
Experimentation is a key word associated with this record: in the words of Iero, ‘these songs were also things that I’d never attempted before but had always wanted to try.’ And boy does he deliver. A funky chorus of drums piques your interest in ‘Moto Pop’, which is then met with a big wall of guitar riffs, unbridled drums and warbling vocals fringed with a cat-like bite, all unifying into a riotous groove. The ingeniously named ‘Medicine Square Garden’ is peppered with pulses of guitars that uncoil like springs, while the vocal harmonies add a sprig of lightness that prevent it sinking too deep into a murky groove. Though the drums crash like a tinkering heartbeat in the choruses, the verses slither but don’t build as much as one might hope, until the bridge, which brings with it a sludgy but full-bodied chorale of guitars that provide a touch more weight to the song’s closing minutes. A shadowy darkness envelopes ‘No Love’, while thoughts of Joy Division are never far away on ‘Police Police’, with its piercing spoken word buried underneath synthesised piano notes and cantankerous guitar lines, through which white-hot strained vocals punch, before being drawn back into the folds of the melody.
Lighter, however, is often better with this record. While at times, as with the meandering melody of ‘The Host’, a softer touch leaves a little to be desired in terms of gusto, ‘Barriers’s ballad-esque musings are some of the record’s highlights. The record’s most streamlined vocal performance goes to ‘The Unfortunate’, which is all bright cymbals and delicate piano notes. In polar opposition to the preconceptions created by the title, ‘Great Party’ is book-ended by soft keys, which are then built upon with melancholy lyricism and a swaying melody, preceding a crash-landing of guitars as crunchy as peanut brittle- a perfectly composed match.
Grandiose tolling of bells line the seams of ‘Basement Eyes’, as the anthemic, soaring side of this many-sided coin of a record comes to the fore. Staccato guitars back Iero’s isolated vocals, bringing with them thunderous pulses of gritty bass and crunching drums, with a lighter-waving, chorus that is almost orchestral in its aspirations for majesty. Soulful and soft, ‘24K Lush’ is a palpable release of emotion, carrying a heavier gravitas to it than one may expect: a soundtrack worthy closer, and anthemic in every sense of the word. Most prevailing of all, and the record’s crowning glory, is undoubtedly ‘Six Feet Down Under’. A slow, treacle-like bassline, overlain with unburdened spoken-word lyrics: refractions of Iero’s innermost thoughts, the track is a stream of consciousness, like a kaleidoscopic window into his swirling thoughts. It’s potency is drawn from it’s lack of rigidity and structure, as the veiled desperation of the refrain ‘say a little prayer for me’ tugs involuntarily at something deep in your gut: this man’s ability to create music that moves people has never wavered. Frank Iero still has much left to say, so don’t expect him to sit back and rest on his laurels any time soon.
'Barriers' is out on May 31st via UNFD.
Check out the video for the record's lead single, 'Young and Doomed', below:
Frank Iero and the Future Violents are currently touring extensively in the US, and will be making a UK appearance at 2000 Trees Festival in July- all tour dates can be found below:
May 29 Philadelphia, PA - The Foundry
May 30 Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Soundstage
May 31 Hamden, CT - The Ballroom at the Outer Space
June 1 Pawtucket, RI - The Met
June 2 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
June 4 Harrisburg, PA - The Capitol Room at The Harrisburg
June 5 Pittsburgh, PA - Rex Theater
June 6 Detroit, MI - El Club
June 7 Cincinnati, OH - Bogarts
June 8 Louisville, KY - Mercury Ballroom
June 10 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
June 11 Birmingham, AL - Saturn
June 13 Tampa, FL - The Crowbar
June 14 Orlando, FL - The Social
June 15 Jacksonville, FL - 1904 Music Hall
June 16 Columbia, SC - The Senate
June 18 Charlotte, NC - Amos Southend
June 20 Virginia Beach, VA - Elevation 27
June 21 Washington, DC - Union Stage
June 22 New York, NY - Rocks Off Cruise
June 29 Atlantic City, NJ - Atlantic City Beach [Warped Tour]
July 5 Hradec Kralove, CZ - [Rock for People]
July 13 Upcote Farm, UK - [2000 Trees]
July 18 Patchogue, NY - [Great South Bay Music Festival]
July 21 Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheater [Warped Tour]