Barriers by Frank Iero and The Future Violents
By Carly Tagen-Dye
From his time playing rhythm guitar in staple pop-punk band My Chemical Romance, to founding his side hardcore project Leathermouth, forming a new act seems like second nature to Frank Iero, who has certainly had his hands full over the last few years. His newest project, Frank Iero and the Future Violents, is a love child that has been in the making for a while. With Iero and Evan Nestor on guitar, Matt Armstrong on bass, Tucker Rule on drums, and Kayleigh Goldsworthy on various instruments, this band brings the hardcore sound Iero and his associates are known for, and then some. Barriers, their recent fourteen-track album, fills you up and rips you apart. For Iero, that’s all just part of the plan.
In an age of autotune, unaltered music is growing scare. It is refreshing to hear songs that so clearly come from somewhere hidden and deep inside of someone. Iero stated in a 2014 interview with Vice, “I think my least favourite thing to listen to is perfect songs, perfect performances. They don’t feel human to me, and in that respect, they lose any kind of sincerity...I like it when things are a little off.” That need for imperfection drives Barriers all the way to its bittersweet end. Some tracks, with their raw-sounding vocals and arrangements, feel like demos. The hard hit of “Moto-Pop” and the haunting ache in “No Love” revive punk and garage rock in an organic and much needed way.
Barriers plays like the ultimate confessional—an awakening between artist and fan— that caters to music’s ability to feel like a religious experience. Perhaps it’s the twisted gospel of opening track “A New Day’s Coming,” or the need for salvation presented in “The Unfortunate,” but there is something sacred hidden within these lines. The desperate wailing in “Police Police,” as Iero cries, “we get farther from God,” brings forth a vitality that is challenging to recreate. In these moments, Iero makes himself vulnerable, allowing listeners access to a part of himself in a way that almost feels invasive.
While these intimate moments draw listeners in, the candor of that honesty can raise concern. When “Young and Doomed” was released as a single earlier this spring, it had fans wondering (and commenting), “Is Frank okay?” The screeching and distorted guitar in “Fever Dream” sound far away, almost as if the speaker isn’t really there. And, perhaps, he isn’t. But they seem like a cathartic release for Iero, too. As the album comes to a close with the brutal lines in “24K Lush,” that cry “one more year in servitude, I have to pay for all I’ve done”, everything becomes clear. This is a shared moment. This is a goodbye that is meant to stay with you long after the final note fades.
Frank Iero and the Future Violents have released one of the most intricate and honest albums I’ve listened to in a long time. Every vocal, lyric, anf riff drips with a kind of emotion that almost feels unique in popular music nowadays. Barriers, in all its glory, is a modern day masterpiece that listeners will be eager to revisit over and over again. If Iero and his crew are after some kind of awakening, either with this album or future releases, consider it well on its way. We are all ready to bear witness to any beautiful transformation they are willing to share.