It has been a little more than a year since New Jersey’s The Front Bottoms released their third studio album Back on Top. The album marked their debut on their first major label, Fueled by Ramen, and despite initial criticism by their hardcore fanbase, Back on Top did receive some acclaim. What the new sound really did for the band was bring them popularity and expand their fanbase, which gave them a plethora of festival gigs. It is now apparent that the Front Bottoms were doing other things than play for thousands of people under the summer sun.
Back on Top was an album that deviated from the past and focused more on the pop in pop-punk. When you have “real” producers on this big label, any band will lose that grainy, DIY sound we saw on the Front Bottom’s first two albums. Some bands are able to expand their sound in a way that stays true to their roots while for others the process of recording with a major label causes them to lose sight of where they’ve come from and with it, their following. It was understandable to worry about that a year ago, but these two songs may have just saved the band’s image. The Front Bottoms were able to combine the professionalism that Fueled by Ramen supplied with their lyrics and sound sourced by true pop-punk roots. Both “Joanie” and “Tighten Up” are extremely listenable and relatable to the loyal, even cultish at times, fanbase. After recently embarking on a tour with Brand New and Modern Baseball, it will be interesting to see what the former New Jersey garage band will come up with next.