Album Review: Froth - 'Duress'


Sometimes when listening to music, it’s easy to get carried away with the moment. On a more amplified level is the feeling that comes from listening to the LA trio Froth’s fourth album ‘Duress’. 

The album opens with the tongue-in-cheek ‘Laurel’ which is about a video that went viral a little while ago. It’s fitting to open the album with a song about how easy it is to hear something differently to someone else, as the band themselves come with vocals that can be hard to read into. With this introduction, it could be easy to dismiss the album as light-hearted, but what becomes apparent with further listening is that there is an underlying concept and a complete opening up of musicians becoming one with their tools. 

‘Dialogue’ feels like the contemplation of something more. The way it bleeds into the mostly instrumental shoegaze/stoner rock tones of ‘a2’ makes it feel as though the latter is actually just a five-minute outro, rather than a separate body of work. This is followed by ‘Department Head’ which is full of slightly discomforting guitars and hazy vocals that barely grow beyond a whisper. It is at this point in listening to Duress that the imagery starts to take hold, and I feel myself being transported somewhere further. The noises blend together into a decipherable cohesiveness and it all begins to make sense.

Froth seem to have captured a similar feel to Brand New’s Science Fiction album. The instrumentals grow longer and lyrics become sparse. There is something about the addition of synths and electronic sounds that make me think of a science experiment – which is why I mention Brand New’s album. ‘77’ moves into deep-synth techno territory. This is the moment where you really start to lose a grasp on your body, if you listen to the entire thing from start to finish. I’m consumed by thoughts of extra-terrestrial exploration and I get the feeling that because they don’t take the music too seriously, they are able to pull of these strange experimental sounds. 

‘John Peel Slowly’ opens with fireworks and a tinkering piano solo. There is chaos amidst the romantic nature of the instruments – sirens and haunting sounds play out in the background, whilst there is a sense of false hope and peace that comes from the actual instruments. This would be the moment in a film where the invaders make themselves known. ‘Xvaños’ brings hints of Smashing Pumpkins in the way it aurally depicts a sparse landscape for vocals that break just above whisper. Drums are the most prevalent instrument which is a welcome change from the dizzying guitars and synths that have dominated thus far. That is, until an otherworldly jam session towards the end.

 In an incredibly poetic way of tying up the album, ‘Slow Chamber’ is full of reverb and revelry with its subtle intensity. Whilst it is still hard to decipher the lyrics; it feels as though “there’s nothing there, it’s all the same” can be heard which is an answer to the question in ‘Dialogue’ – “do you think something’s out there?” Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds comes to mind when trying to sum up Froth’s latest release. There is a story to be told beneath the whisperings and mesmeric instrumental build-ups. This is the kind of album that deserves some time to be taken with it – and listening to it with headphones is the best way to feel the full experience.

Words by Tyler Damara Kelly

Live Dates -
8th September - Komedia, Brighton
9th September - YES, Manchester 
10th September - Nice 'n Sleazy, Glasgow
11th September - Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
12th September - Studio 9294, London