Frost* is back. The band has been through many iterations, but the newest one seems to be sticking, and that makes me glad. The new album is called Day and Age, and it releases on May 14th through Inside Out Music. For my two cents, the album is their best since Milliontown.
I know, that’s quite a statement. The Frost* debut is considered a modern classic by many, and to this day it feels fresh and invigorating. But that is exactly what I hear on this new album. The band has changed slightly since their last release, Falling Satellites, losing drummer Craig Blundell. If you know anything about him, you know that is a huge loss. The lineup for this album includes Jem Godfrey on keyboards, railboard, and vocals; Nathan King on bass, keyboards, and vocals; and John Mitchell on guitars, bass, and vocals. Filling Craig’s spot are three guest drummers: Kaz Rodriguez, Darby Todd, and Pat Mastelotto.
Day and Age is a fascinating record. When the band released their Others EP in 2020, I sort of expected the band to carry forward that gritty, irreverent, electronic-heavy sound. But they did not. In fact, that EP seems more like a solo treat from Jem. Instead, this record remains in the progressive rock and pop that Frost* has always practiced. The drums are dynamic, the vocal harmonies are refreshing, the guitars are soulful, and the keys are pure fire. But the band’s sound is more than that: they have a tongue-in-cheek, playful attitude to everything they do, even while visiting lyrics that offer social commentary, sometimes rather dark. That is the balance the band is best at striking, and I’m so happy that they achieved it once again here.
Don’t get me wrong: I like all of the band’s albums. I think that I liked Experiments in Mass Appeal from 2008 more than most people, and 2016’s Falling Satellites had some incredibly strong songs on it. But neither of those albums had the x-factor groove that I’m hearing once again on Day and Age. The driving, melodic, and inspired groove is everywhere here, feeling just as kinetic, stimulating, and delightful as ever.
Now, I have to admit that this album surprised me. I didn’t jive with either of the singles that were released. “Terrestrial” is a great song, but it feels like one of those songs that needs to be heard in the context of the album to be fully appreciated. “Day and Age” is an even stranger problem, as the single version is only four minutes long, while the album version is 12 minutes in length. Who thought it was a good idea to cut off two-thirds of the song? I mean, progressive rock fans are used to long songs, so that couldn’t be the issue, right? The single version is abbreviated, removing what I consider to be the most interesting parts of the song. The longer version obviously has the same central rhythm that is so addictive, but adds so much more musical space, not to mention the sweet instrumentals in the middle that really bring back Milliontown memories something fierce. Quite literally, the single version almost made me ignore the album altogether, but the album version is one of my favorite songs this year. My only complaint about it is the searing synth solo that begins about 5 seconds before the end. I wish I could hear an even longer version.
Some of my favorites are “The Boy Who Stood Still”, “Island Life”, and “Skywards”. They happen to be three consecutive tracks, too. The first of this trio is heavy on narration and spoken word, but somehow the vibrant drumming and illustrious keys bring it all together into a fantastic experience. “Island Life” follows, and, instead of feeling like a Jimmy Buffett tribute, it is a locomotive and melodic rock song that will instantly make you check the track title to store in your memory. “Skywards” is even better, though, feeling cinematic and even a bit understated, and the orchestrations that come sweeping in near the end take it to new levels.
I have to say that I love the closer “Repeat to Fade”, as well. It feels a bit “Moby” in its sampling, yet it has more edge than that, not to mention a sauntering and addicting beat. It is a perfect closing track with moments of chaos, like endlessly shouting a message for all to hear. The effect is that the album closes with determination and feeling.
Frost* is becoming legendary in progressive circles, and I feel they deserve much more attention. Combining technical fireworks with satisfying melodies and inimitable style, the band always seems to be having fun; they always seem to be strapping in for the ride of their lives. Day and Age is no different in that regard, and the band has simply written a collection of strong songs here, ones that stick with you.
Find Frost* online: