Surf punk band the Frights have taken the plunge and released an entirely acoustic record, titled Everything Seems Like Yesterday. And sadly, for diehard fans of the Frights’ signature aggressive indie surf sound, there aren’t any traces of the old group to be found. While there’s nothing wrong with the Frights attempting to reinvent their sound or show a more vulnerable side, this record does so in a bland way. The Frights could do much better and still achieve the same effect.
Any group choosing to release a record that sounds like it’s coming from an entirely different band is undoubtedly taking a huge risk. Black Sabbath successfully did it with the ambitious album Technical Ecstasy, and though some critics and fans weren’t pleased with the pivot from beloved sludge rock, the record had an overall positive reception. The Frights attempt to do something similar, putting out a new sound that shows the band’s growth and mastery of music.
But the Frights aren’t able to reap any rewards because the record isn’t well executed. The issue isn’t that Everything Seems Like Yesterday doesn’t sound like the Frights — it’s that the record frankly doesn’t sound interesting at all.
The Frights are best-known for their second studio album, You Are Going to Hate This, an intense garage rock, vintage surf record that hooks listeners from start to finish. While the band hasn’t quite hit the same mark since its sophomore release, its next few albums still embodied the energy of the group enough to garner praise from fans. But Everything Seems Like Yesterday certainly makes fans miss the good ol’ days more than it should.
The record begins with “24,” a song about being a painfully oblivious 20-year-old. It is a promising start to the album, a soft and melodic song on lost love that sets the mood for an increasingly nostalgic journey.
“Kicking Cans” and “Simple and Strange” similarly reflect on the past and bad decisions. But by the time “Echo In the Corner Of the Room” rolls around, listeners have heard the same narrative, chord progression and sadness four different times (with six more times to go).
With this record, the Frights commit a major sin that comes with putting out a purely acoustic record: failing to bring diversity. Everything Seems Like Yesterday has 10 songs that all essentially sound the same. A harmonica is thrown in every now and then to spice things up, but it clearly is not doing much.
The lyrics’ significance hasn’t changed much from the Frights’ previous works, but because the backing music is plain, one can’t help but notice the lyrical shortcomings. In “Love Grows Cold,” lead singer Mikey Carnevale sings, “Love grows cold and if it does that’s fine/ The cold brings me closer to you.” On the surface, these lyrics show the band’s understanding of the tough conventions of love. But there isn’t much else underneath this, which isn’t what the band wants listeners to think.
On its own, this record has some merit with pleasing vocals and various good melodies. But compared to the Frights’ previous works, it falls flat. The Frights, coming from a line of albums consisting purely of raucous, driving rhythms, belted lyrics and general chaos, knows how to make an album that captures attention. It simply does not know how to do it without sticking to its brand of surf punk.
This isn’t to say that Everything Seems Like Yesterday is completely horrible — it has its admirable qualities. The album’s atmosphere is appropriately filled with angst and longing, one of its few redeeming features. Carnevale’s voice is still easy on the ears, as it has always been, even when he’s screaming the lyrics.
The record, unfortunately, is not memorable. The one remotely interesting thing about this album is its colorful, intricate cover art. The Frights make an attempt to deliver a raw and emotional album, but inevitably the band settles into the rut of mundane, acoustic indie pop.
Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].