If you are looking for a musical enigma that is constantly evolving and changing, then look no further than Frank Iero. ‘Barriers’ is Frank’s first album under UNFD, and his third solo album. Along with long-time collaborator, guitarist and backing vocalist Evan Nestor, drummer Tucker Rule (of Thursday), bassist Matt Armstrong, and multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy, they are Frank Iero And The Future Violents. ‘Barriers’ is a 14-track story-telling journey and is out on May 31st via UNFD.
A New Day’s Coming seems to be quite a fitting name for the records opening track, as it introduces the bands sound, and acts as a precursor to the records narrative. It starts off quite slow and with Frank solo on vocals, with backing vocals by Kayleigh coming in at around a minute. It’s quite a slow and melancholic song and is super stripped back.
Young And Doomed is track two and is so far the only taste of the album we have. Prior to the song’s release, Frank posted the lyrics on his Instagram page and a particular line caught my, and many others, eye. The lyric being “I promise, that I’m not okay” and in brackets ‘Triggered?’. This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Frank’s former band My Chemical Romance’s track ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’, and in the recording of the song Frank says ‘oh wait that’s the other guy’ after the line is sung. A nice little reference there for MCR fans! It’s quite a bit more upbeat and energetic than track one, and is closer to what fans have come to expect from Frank.
Track three is Fever Dream, and it again takes you off in another direction musically. It has a little bit of an early Nirvana feel musically in the first part, whilst sounding a little LeATHERMØUTH in the chorus. It also includes a quirky little guitar solo in the second half.
The Host and Basement Eyes are tracks three and four respectively and are both vastly different. The Host is a little more light-hearted than Fever Dream, in terms of its sound and is more similar to A New Day’s Coming. ‘I’m so far gone on and on’ is a lyric that is repeated throughout the chorus and carries a lot of emotion. This track also features some beautiful keys passages from Goldsworthy. Basement Eyes is a bit of a ballad, but also isn’t at the same time. The harmonies on the vocals are really pretty, and layered over the instrumentals sound awesome.
Ode To Destruction lulls you into a false sense of sweetness in the first 40 seconds with just Frank on vocals and Kayleigh on piano, making you think that that’s what the rest of the track is going to be like as well. How wrong you’d be to make that assumption, as when the rest of the band comes in the energy is lifted and it continues til the end of the track. Track seven is The Unfortunate and it’s both the mid-way point of the record, and the shortest song on the record with a run time of about two and a half minutes. It’s also the first track on the record where Frank’s vocals come in before the instrumentals do. It’s a very drum and piano based track, and Tucker Rule plays some really great beats throughout.
Moto Pop hits you in the face next, and as it opens with Tucker’s drums it really his like you’re getting hit in the face. Then the guitars and vocals come in and you get hit again, this time in the chest with the heavy riffs. It has a bit of a Dear Percocet, I Don’t Think We Should Be Friends Anymore from Frank’s 2016 release (under the moniker Frank Iero andthe Patience) ‘Parachutes’ feel to it. It’s also one of the fastest tracks on the record tempo and beat wise. I recommend warming up your neck muscles before you launch into this one as you’re going to want to head bang along. Track nine is Medicine Square Garden and Matt Armstrong really gets to show off his bass playing ability as it’s one of the most noticeable instruments throughout. The guitar parts in the second half of the track are also kickass and bring a bit of a different vibe to the song. One of the standout tracks musically for me.
Next up is track ten, No Love and immediate thoughts upon hearing the opening 30 seconds or so is ‘hello classic 80s’. It has a bit of a Divinyls vibe, and a little bit of a Pat Benatar vibe, and even a little bit of a Police vibe (before Sting got too weird). It’s also quite dramatic sounding musically, and Frank’s vocals really glue the whole thing together. Police Police is track eleven and has really interesting vocals. Frank alternates between almost speaking his vocals in some parts, whilst screaming them in others. He has an incredibly unique voice and his ability to swap between the two styles is pretty much seamless.
Great Party is a misleading title as you expect it to be an upbeat party song, but it’s really not. “Just when you thought it can’t get worse, it does’ is one of the leading lyrics of the chorus and it really is a great way to describe the vibe of this song. The quite heavy guitars are underpinned by a beautiful piano piece and is another highlight musically.
In October of 2016, whilst on tour in Australia with Frank Iero andthe Cellarbration, Frank and his fellow bandmates (including Evan) were involved in a serious bus accident in Sydney. Six Feet Down Under tells the story of this horrific incident and it’s one of the most emotional, gut-wrenching songs I’ve ever heard. Where Moto Pop required neck-muscle stretching, Six Feet Down Under requires tissues and a big hug. Frank has always been a fantastic storyteller musically and lyrically, and this is not an exception. It’s an incredibly open and honest track about a truly horrible situation.
We come to the end of ‘Barriers’ with closing track, 24k Lush. It’s the last and the longest track on the record, coming in at just under 6 minutes. You really should keep the tissues out as it’s another really emotional track. It’s a pretty perfect ending to the 14 track story that is ‘Barriers’ and it’s everything you’d want a final track to be.
Pre-Order ‘Barriers’, out May 31st via UNFD, HERE!