Ever since the end of My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero has not allowed himself, or his music, to be pigeonholed. This is evident with his latest project, Frank Iero and the Future Violents, which sounds nothing like previous offerings from the guitarist/singer, yet is equally good as the others have been. Barriers opens with a slower song, reminiscent of a 1950s ballad, which makes the punk that follows all the more interesting. (Not to say that opening track “A New Day’s Coming” isn’t good – it is.)
The Future Violents lineup is Iero, Evan Nestor (an alumni of all the Frank Iero solo projects), former Murder By Death bassist Matt Armstrong, multi-instrumentalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy from Dave Hause And The Mermaid and Thursday’s Tucker Rule on drums.
“Young and Doomed” feels like a slightly experimental punk anthem for anyone feeling the frustrations of life in the current times. The song crashes into “Fever Dream,” which almost has a Nirvana feel to it – something totally unexpected that works really well in the context of the album. I think these two songs are my favorites on an album that I really like for its subdued charms and bursts of energy that keep the listener on their toes. “Moto-Pop” also stands out, as it is a song that would be equally at home on a late 70s punk album. The verses of “No Love” even sounds vaguely like The Cure – which is a surprising twist.
Barriers is, if nothing else, a diverse pastiche of different sounds and styles. It is a roller coaster of an album that takes listeners on an adventure through Frank’s brain and different aspects of music he appreciates and has been influenced by.
Frank Iero’s vocals are at times, like butter – this is especially apparent on “The Unfortunate,” and “Medicine Square Garden” – both at home in the middle of the album. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots from earlier bands and his ability to scream in the best possible ways.
The melodic and catchy chorus of “Police Police”, with almost spoken-word lyrics is another favorite and a song that is hard to characterize. “Hard to characterize” is probably the best way to describe this album, although there’s nothing wrong with that. It makes it more of an adventure, and is a great album when taken as individual songs as well as for listening to straight through.
The album closes with a jazzy ballad, almost a sexy siren song “Six Feet Under” and the sweeping and swooping “24k Lush”. Taken separately, the two songs couldn’t be less alike, but they work. That’s kind of the theme of the whole album – it just works, even if there is no real reason for it to do so. We’re dealing with ambitious professionals here. They knew exactly what they were doing when they put this album together.
Barriers is overall more tame than previous offerings from Frank Iero, especially when compared to his garage rock turn with Frank Iero and the Patience and the rawness of frnkiero and the cellabration. It doesn’t make this less of an album, not by any means, and it sounds nothing like what he did when he was in My Chemical Romance. At the same time, it is probably his solo album that will appeal most to fans of MCR.