Generally, when the first word of an album’s title track is an aptly-blurted “fuck,” the response to what follows is going to be polarized. So in what could be seen as an anticipatory measure, surf punk trio The Frights settled on the self-aware, seemingly-appropriate title “You Are Going to Hate This” for both the track and their new album. However, The Frights’ fusion of upbeat surf punk with not-so-teenage lyrics creates just the opposite feel from what their self-aware title might suggest.
Listen: “You Are Going to Hate This” – The Frights
Comprised of guitarist Mikey Carnevale, bassist Richard Dotson, and drummer Marc Finn, The Frights originally formed as a joke to perform a one-off set in their hometown of San Diego. In one of those bizarre twists of fate that ended up working out, someone in the right place ended up liking them. They signed with Dangerbird Records last year and released their first full-length album, You Are Going to Hate This, last month. If that’s not proof enough that The Frights deserve to be in the surf punk scene, Zac Carper of FIDLAR, one of today’s biggest California punk outfits, helped the band produce You Are Going To Hate This. A pleasant surprise for a couple of guys who didn’t exactly plan on making it.
On the whole, You Are Going to Hate This is rough-around-the-edges without leaning too far into adolescence — something difficult to achieve in garage and surf punk. Plenty of reverb, heavy bass lines, and spaced-out semi-ironic concern abound. References to older rock-and-roll peek through, so much so that the band’s self-prescribed label of “dirty doo-wop” is the best way to describe the sound that sticks.
Nowhere on the album is this better demonstrated than in “You Are Going to Hate This.” Beginning with a quick guitar riff and simply-stated expletive, the song launches straight into an upbeat mix of bass and drums. Carnevale’s not-too-terribly concerned vocals match the tempo, and go on to document a relationship hovering between unaffected hook-up and actually dysfunctional. Rather than turn toward a more adolescent view of the relationship — if it can even be labeled as such — the importance is placed on the supposed disinterestedness of the opposite party, with refrains like “why can’t I be like you?” and “why can’t I be so cool?” being repeated throughout the song. Even lyrics that could be seen as more vulnerable (“My heart breaks at the drop of a dime/And I freak out when I lose my mind”) are cast as offhand when juxtaposed with the song’s quick riffs and opposing lyrics like “I need you when I need to fuck/But I talk to you and you don’t say much”). The ooooh-oooohs following each section hearken back to early rock n’ roll, giving the song an almost Buddy-Holly-or-Beach-Boys-gone-gritty feel.
My head shakes when I sleep too long and my
Mom cries when I sing this song
Why can’t I be like you
You say things that don’t make much sense
But the drugs you did or the money you spent
Why can’t I be so cool
And none of it feels manufactured. It’s simply a song documenting the way it is between the speaker and their not-so-significant other. No laments, whining, or anger — just a nonchalant observance mixed with a little bit of envy at the other party’s coolness. A surprisingly modern adult viewpoint, when taken with the genre The Frights operate in.
Even when paired with spidery riffs and spoken in a whisper, The Frights’ self-awareness comes off as carefree and offhand, so much so that it waters down lyrics like “I wrote this and it don’t mean shit.” Or, going off of the song’s title, perhaps that’s the truest lyric in the entire song. Whatever the status of The Frights’ self-critique, “You Are Going to Hate This” is something completely fresh from the emerging surf punk revolution.