FF sounds like how the rest of the country has long assumed all of Seattle sounds… but in a good way. The trio’s debut LP Lord feels like a lost reference point of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s Washington punk scene that would eventually give rise to the grunge boom. It’s brash, youthful, loud, pissed off, and sneakily catchy. But FF isn't just trying to ape the past, there's enough creativity in the muss to make sure Lord stands on its own merits.
To be short and sweet about it, FF shreds. From the opening strum on “Dead Head,” Harley Thompson’s heavily distorted guitar work drives the action with riffs that slowly swell to crescendos and then let ‘er rip in frenzied blasts. The bends and occasional solos he plays fit the tone too, adding an element of aggression without ever coming off as flashy. Bassist Claire Nelson and drummer Michael Abeyta add a consistent rhythmic counterpoint that gives each track a brooding underbelly. Each song rattles with a sense chaos that the band seems just barely able to control.
FF certainly makes a racket on Lord, but it’s a very palatable and accessible one for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the band does a stellar job injecting melodicisim into its noise. There are many bands of FF’s DIY aesthetic ilk that strive to make intentionally difficult to listen to music, but the chordal progressions and releases FF employs help Lord’s tracks go down easy. It’s more vintage Sonic Youth than the Melvins. Thompson’s lead vocals fluctuate between angsty snarling and apathetic droning without venturing to dissonance, and Nelson’s fuzzy warm background coos add a borderline catchy counterbalance to the instrumental distortion. Thompson delivers mumbled lines about loving longing and disconnect with a general thematic sentiment can best be summed up by the chorus lyrics of “Caught in a Dream”: “So tired and bored / Caught in this dream.” The other major factor that makes Lord go down smooth is the album’s production. The band and engineer Dylan Wall eschew a lo-fi noise feel for a crisp, bleach clean sound.
There isn’t a ton of variety on Lord, but the album never feels like it’s trying to grind down the listener with repetition. There’s enough melody tucked away to give FF’s debut a dash of riotous exuberance hidden underneath the squalor of its dark clouds.
Also check out:
Tangerine - Behemoth! & Bellamaine - Bellamaine (Terrific hooky tunes those looking for sunnier, poppier rock alternatives to FF.)
Mary Lambert - Heart On My Sleeve (The singer-songwriter crafts an emotional collection of catchy diary pop songs.)