Frank Iero and the Future Violents
Genre: Alternative Rock
Release Date: May 31st, 2019
It’s funny; I’ve been out of the office recovering from a sickness I came down with for about a week and a half. I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up, which if you read this site often enough, you’ll come to find out (and I promise, this is something that I’m desperately trying to correct). Bottom line is, I really hadn’t listened to music for a couple of weeks. I had completely stepped away from this world. So when it came time for me to finally press play on the third Frank Iero album, Barriers, my expectations had actually dissipated. I had been so far removed that I didn’t really know what to expect. I was ready for anything.
Cut to about a quarter of the way through the record, on the somber “Ode To Destruction”, a track that slowly builds from a melancholy piano chord progression before exploding into an ethereal garage-rock/post-punk dialogue that reflects so deeply inward that it feels like a knife to the chest. “May wish I’d disappear, let the record slow/As the distance grows, it’s like I always feared/I never gave enough and never wanted to/But still I think of you/Would you waste some time on me?/Am I a waste of time?” Iero metaphorically cuts himself open on Barriers. I realized a quarter of the way through the album that out of eleven to twelve releases throughout his career in multiple bands, Barriers places Iero front and center, his lyrics exposing himself like a raw nerve, and bringing forth by far the most honest and vulnerable material he’s ever written.
Known for “reinventing” himself with each lineup, Iero dubbed this project as “Frank Iero and the Future Violents” (with a band rounded out by Evan Nestor, Matt Armstrong, Tucker Rule, and Kayleigh Goldsworthy.) Barriers was produced by Steve Albini, a producer who has amassed a discography worthy of the highest honors, with albums under his belt like Surfer Rosa (Pixies) and In Utero (Nirvana). Albini’s influence is evident throughout the fourteen tracks that comprise Barriers, each song cut in a way that puts the rawness and vulnerability front and center without diminishing the quality. Iero’s vocals are not pop-perfect, and that individuality makes each song stand out spectacularly among the polished vocal stylings that are commonplace in today’s alternative landscape.
Bleak moments piece together Barriers, yet this is where it gets its strength; Iero plays off of the initial fear that he had about writing these songs (as stated in previous interviews). He screams through pain on “Fever Dream” (I bask in silence, want you to notice/simple yet complex, ventricle taste test/I’m on that side eye, black heart and tongue tied/I’m old and loaded, I want everything you fuckin’ got). He unleashes himself in an unabashedely punk rock approach on “Moto Pop” (“I’m scared of shadows from my past/They’re loomin’ large until there’s light/And I can see the birds of prey circlin’ overhead/They might strip our bones and I might long for it”).
The album is structured in such a way that it upsurges and culminates in a foolproof manner. “A New Day’s Coming” builds up slowly before launching into “Young And Doomed”. What follows is a ride on a trail of peaks and valleys that covers the scope of Iero’s struggles, his darkness, things he’s found himself terrified of writing about for years. The album’s speed hits the apex with “Moto Pop” and “Medicine Square Garden” before venturing back down and landing at the bottom of the mountain with an almost Nirvana-esque conclusion, “24k Lush”. While sadder in tone, the song resolutely offers a glimmer of hope (“Raise my arms to the sky for once. I’m gold/No, I won’t give you up. I can’t let you down any more than I have.”)
The last few years may have been tough for Iero, but Barriers is a strong indication that he won’t be giving up any time soon. And we love that. Tonight, we’re gold.