For New Englanders still recovering from the sub-zero temperatures and blue moods of Valentine’s Day weekend, The Frights’ You Are Going to Hate This is the perfect remedy: a 33-minute burst of Southern California sunshine tempered with healthful amounts of angst and adrenaline.
In their first records, The Frights resurrected the grainy, reverb-heavy sound of ancient garage rock cassette tapes. With You Are Going To Hate This, the band manages to modernize and diversify its music without straying too far from its roots. Zac Carper of the Los Angeles punk band FIDLAR skillfully guided The Frights through this transition as the album’s sole producer. The album’s punkiest tracks are louder, faster, and more robust than any of the band’s previous work.
Some songs on You Are Going to Hate This sound a lot like FIDLAR and other contemporary punk bands—they are enjoyable, but not very original. Still, for most of the album, The Frights forge their own musical identity out of an unusual combination of influences. The band’s music often brings Weezer to mind. Both bands are situated somewhere between punk and power pop and, much like Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, lead singer Mikey Carnavale can sound coolly confident in one song and awkwardly emotional in the next.. “All I Need” and “Tungs” incorporate older rhythms and melodies from ’50s doo-wop and calypso, respectively. The mix of salacious lyrics (“I want my blood inside of you”) with these antiquated styles gives the album a unique charm.
Although there are hardly any vocal harmonies to be found on You Are Going to Hate This, the varied instrumental touches and wistful lyrics about growing up in the album’s slower songs recall the Beach Boys’ classic Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson, who will celebrate that album’s 50th anniversary this year, would approve of “Puppy Knuckles,” which includes violins and a xylophone interlude, and “Haunted,” with a refrain built upon slow cello notes. This experimentation succeeds beautifully, and leaves a more lasting impression than the raw, no-frills rock that the band is best known for.
On the album’s poignant closer, “Of Age,” the experimentation continues with more xylophone, accompanied by a ukulele. An entire album of songs like this one would be overly sentimental, but after a rollicking punk rock set, Carnavale’s subdued confessions hit home. “I don’t feel like a man / when my body’s full of alcohol and I’m sleeping in the van,” he admits. It will be interesting to see if The Frights venture deeper into indie pop, and further from punk, as their career continues. For now, though it’s easy to enjoy—and hard to hate—this album that brings the two genres together.