May 28, 2019 Frank Iero and the Future Violents – Barriers (Album Review)
The other guy promised that he was not okay, and now Frank Iero, well, he is got a lot on his mind, but, ultimately, he is doing just fine—as is evidenced by his brand-new Barriers. UNFD delivers the eclectic collection of melancholia, upbeat regrets, and Punk on Friday, May 31st, 2019.
For some, the name Frank Iero is inextricably intertwined with those Emo sweethearts My Chemical Romance, and despite releasing four albums with the band, it has been a while since he strummed any chords with his emotional compadres. Certainly, one can’t accuse Iero of sitting idle, however: the past six years and change have been full of many exciting new adventures. There’s been the Hardcore LeATHERMØUTH, and Death Spells with James Dewees (The Get Up Kids, Reggie & The Full Effect). Then there was Frnkiero and the Cellabration, who released 2014’s Stomachaches, then underwent a name change to Frank Iero and the Patience and released 2016’s Parachutes.
Undergoing another recent alteration in moniker, Frank Iero and the Future Violents are now poised to deliver their debut, which is actually Iero’s third solo effort. With Barriers, the Vocalist/Guitarist asks you to leave all preconceived notions at the door and to join him in breaking down both sonic and personal roadblocks—to allow for an unfiltered embrace of any and all styles that inspire his creative process, and to be blatantly honest about what buzzes around inside his brain.
Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini (Nirvana, Jawbreaker), the 14-track Barriers delivers a truly eclectic array of sounds. Here, the band, which also includes the musical talents of Guitarist Evan Nestor, Bassist Matt Armstrong (formerly of Murder by Death), Drummer Tucker Rule (of Thursday), and Multi-Instrumentalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy, focus on regrets—and the moments inspired by emotional vulnerability, existential uncertainty, and optimistic dread. Oh, and trying new things!
Barriers opens to Iero’s vocals and an organ accompaniment from Goldsworthy on “A New Day’s Coming.” An invitation to embrace every new day, to leave the past in the past, the gentle sway of the track promises a raw and honest journey—and caps it off with a killer guitar solo. To promise that, yes, this is definitely not going to be a dull, one-note collection, next the band amp it up with a gritty Punk Rock-influence on “Young and Doomed,” which also tosses out a dash of humor at Iero’s musical past. (Promise!)
This frenzied pace continues into the grungy angst of “Fever Dream,” an explosion of creative frustration. Of course, “The Host” flips this all on its head, going for a lackadaisical musing about running out of time that sounds like a melodic daydream. Complementing this perfectly, Iero invites his listeners to believe, to fight for something on the sing-along “Basement Eyes,” which goes for a melodic yet rocking approach.
A perfect example of the stripped aesthetics of Barriers, on “Ode to Destruction,” Iero’s voice cracks and he’s not always pitch perfect, but he shows a sincere Punk Rock grit and honesty, a passion for his craft that defies any necessities for perfection. This rawness continues into “The Unfortunate,” an apology for falling out of love that harnesses pure emotion and highlights this with a softly weeping violin.
Bass thrums into the explosion of the raucous Punk cacophony that is “Moto-Pop,” where Iero owns up to his scars, before he flips the switch to something more dramatic. The cinematic sweep of sadness that is “Medicine Square Garden” presents a beautiful mirage of sounds, ones that twinkle like the city lights in puddles of rain. This segues perfectly into the flickering “No Love.”
“Police Police” increases the intensity and freneticism but, of course, that does not last. Delivering a handful of melancholic confessions—worry that he is the one that brings others down and that his heart is somehow flawed—the ironically-titled “Great Party” hits in the feels with its blatant honesty. “Just when you thought it can’t get worse, always it does,” he promises.
Ultimately, the conversational “Six Feet Down Under” leads Frank Iero and the Future Violents to their grand finale, “24k Lush.” Here, deep bass tones build to choruses full of raw emotion and soaring guitars, capping off an album that defies sonic barriers and refuses to be anything but inspired and unapologetic.
It is a collection that echoes everyone from Nirvana and Iggy Pop to AFI and Straylight Run—meaning Barriers is really and truly an eclectic album. Because its influences are across the board and its lyrics are unfiltered, one might even begin to wonder if this is what it feels like to live inside of Frank Iero’s mind. Raw, emotional, true and honest, never overproduced or scripted, Barriers pushes aside expectations to lose itself in the creative process. Sure, it gets pitchy and it never aims for mass appeal, but that’s what makes Frank Iero and the Future Violents so damn Punk Rock—they just don’t give a damn! For this, Cryptic Rock give Barriers 4.5 of 5 stars.