8.4

Frontier Ruckus: Sitcom Afterlife Review

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Frontier Ruckus: <i>Sitcom Afterlife</i> Review

Frontier Ruckus tend to go further than just making another album. After hearing their fourth full-length, it’s clear, by now, that the Detroit quartet always aspires to something deeper, more toward a sense-stretching dissertation, with profoundly intimate explorations of nasty memories and nice nostalgia, with lyrics as dense as a Faulkner novel and intricate arrangements that transform the typical Americana twang and faded pastoral preconceptions of folk/pop into something surreal and yet familiar.

Cool punk guitars cut over old-fogey organ sounds. Dreamily surreal synthesizers slither under dusty banjos. Nocturnal nightwalk drum machines saunter and snap under the Appalachian billow of a ghostly singing-saw. Considering all these vibrant and eclectic instrumental elements, it should be stated that most of Sitcom Afterlife’s songs are, at their core, riff-led songs (centric to the guitar-pop sound of the ‘90s good ol’ indie daze). The lyrics are a blur of vulnerable and visceral TMI-memories poetically knitted together into brisk, wavy melodies, waxing on the transient nature of past melodramas, like reruns of failed pilot episodes of brainless sitcoms, with cheery theme songs snapping catchy melodies and major keys to drown out any emotional discord.

This may bend the ears of Neutral Milk Hotel fans, frankly. This would be sufficiently more refreshing than just respinning In The Aeroplane Over The Sea for the 107th time. Frontier Ruckus, here, have honed their knack of twisting that similarly brass-bolstered chamber-pop aesthetic into an increasingly more dazzling demonstration of deluging, phantasmagoric montages of diary confessionals that are charmingly kicked up by some road-trip-ready backbeats and even some air-guitar-coaxing riffs, albeit suited-up, sumptuously, with aforementioned baroque instrumentation.

Sitcom Afterlife is a spin-art splattering of the minutiae of modern pop-culture with the murk of our collective pasts, bleeding through the boundaries of genre and striking an uncanny chord inside the listener. One song could supplement some back-porch rocking chair ruminations, while another lurches into ambient/electro-tropes for strung-out mirror-staring night-owls, through it all, effectively (and most importantly, harmoniously), bridging the strummy sing-song charms of folk and the cool, curling guitar dynamics of modern psychedelicized Americana.

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