Froth - Duress - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Froth - Duress

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2019-06-07
Froth - Duress
Froth - Duress

California based shoegaze/alt rock band Froth have spent the last few years perfecting their sound. On 2017’s breakthrough Outside (briefly) the band came bursting out of their restraints with a hard collection of accessible shoegaze pop, akin to the trends now surfacing for the genre. Outside (briefly) was like a coming-of-age movie for the band, they’d nestled into a comfortable pattern, but two years later, and Duress feels like a natural continuation, if not a numbing complacency for the most part.

Let’s face it, shoegaze died a long time ago. Those still carrying on in this format are dedicated to the genre but refuse to expand their sound. In the last five years there have been several attempts at freshening things up – last year Tanukichan delivered an inspiring batch of songs that were beautifully flawed – but Froth are content with making the same thing again and aren’t all that interested in testing their limits. Duress soars when the band cuts loose and delves into pure noise like on “A2,” a track that gives way to a 5-minute burst of noise and sampling before spacing out with warbly vocals near the track’s finale.  

Incorporating the legends of the genre like Ride, Slowdive, and even Duster, Froth’s latest outing does try to push the boundaries more than Outside (briefly), like on “77” they apply more loops and sampling to cut away from the traditional wall of noise coupled with soft, dreamy vocals – it’s one of the more interesting tracks on Duress. “John Peel Slowly” is another interlude-like track that hopes to break up the monotony, and it’s effective in how it sets up the final trifecta of songs by trailing off with pianos and drum loops.

 The ending of Duress doesn’t disappoint for those comforted by Froth’s dynamic ability to use samples and noise together, not to the extreme extent as Kraus did on 2018’s Path, but still to a heavy measure. “Xvanos” keeps things light and airy, but still pushing forward with a noisy finish that swirls like the edgier parts of an early Spiritualized record like Laser Guided Melodies. “Slow Chamber” is typical dream pop fare, sounding like a collaboration with (Sandy) Alex G or Jackson Scott. It’s a relatively safe penultimate track, ear-pleasing, but somewhat daunting when compared to what it’s sandwiched between.

“Syndrome” tops the album off and might be the best track to come from Froth so far – it’s sample heavy, but Froth’s identity is still intact with masterful backing guitars that weave in and out, circling around the vocals in a woozy way. Duress doesn’t seem content with making the same record twice completely, there are moments of intelligence and finesse, but there’s quite a bit of samey feeling to it when placed side-by-side with Outside (briefly), so fans of Froth get both sides of the coin. It’s these flourishes of brilliance that makes Duress worth a listen, even if Froth are content with playing it safe for a majority of the record.

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