Frontier Ruckus is a bit of a curve ball signing for Loose. To Enter The Kingdom with them is to enter a world of introspective college rock with emphasis squarely on college; the clever rhymes and expanded vocabulary will make you feel like you’re getting an education within minutes!
Frontier Ruckus’ stock-in-trade appears to be close observation of daily life. Visit Me is a case in point, feeling like a cinematic portrayal of a domestic scene: “I’m home watching my dad watch the NFL alone.” A sense of existential loneliness permeates the family; the singing son is longing for a lover. An unexpected, slightly comedic, banjo solo at the end is the only hint to Americana so far, and is a slightly odd turn for a track that has until then mirrored the slow pace of small-town American family life.
Next up, Gerunds. A gerund is noun made from a verb, in case you were in any doubt about the erudite nature of this record. There’s a palpable sense of nostalgia for the recent past; reflecting on how hard it is to cash a cheque while sharing an e-cigarette. It becomes clear that the driving rhyme scheme of the previous song wasn’t a one off, making it unclear whether the Gin Blossoms reference was intentional or simply placed to scan well. By the time of “the store wasn’t open for your ibuprofen,” the rhyming device is starting to crowd out other elements like gentle strings and some interesting commentary about the persistence of memory.
27 Dollars is more upbeat after a slow, vulnerable start. A retro pop dance hook is used to remind someone they owe money. Obviously!
Our Flowers Are Still Burning suggest the earlier reference was intentional. It’s reminiscent of Gin Blossoms album tracks, with a ‘day job’ reference to boot. Unlike that radio friendly act, this band’s rhymes are still more of an acquired taste: “in the speckled melanin/that is freckled up your skin.”
Positively Freaking is an upbeat return to the worldview of the opening track: “I watch ’90s sitcoms at my dad’s place.” The jaunty piece has other retro touches, like a reference to faxes and, stylistically, the return of the two minute pop rock song.
Sarah and spring, both mentioned in the previous song, get an entire song for themselves; Sarah Springtime. Again, it’s about the recent past: “Your dad’s looking for work on Craigslist.” This one’s more melancholic though, talking about a deserted megachurch and “the way thing used to be.” The rhyming kicks up another notch, pairing ‘qualified’ with ‘mollify’ and ‘ancient’ and ‘patient’ with ‘nascent’…with varying levels of success.
After Since Milford, an instrumental, Gauche flows in naturally. It’s sweet on the surface, though creepy on a close listen “forget the strange rage regarding all the strangers you let in to meet your mother…22 year olds just never entice me, well maybe once or twice…salivating as soon as someone lets me.” Not certain this one would have made the cut post #MeToo.
Nothing is Working is another ode to a recent past of dial-up modems, coloured with Americana solos and subtle brass. Next, If You Can has tender guitar picking and a relaxing atmosphere, ending with a ghostly sample.
The title track, Enter The Kingdom, comes last. It has the most interesting instrumentation of the record as strings waltz the song into being. The standout line is “the metaphor wasted on me”; something that’s never happened to this lyricist, if this record is anything to go by! The video truly enhances the story.
It’s an album of short songs with long words and rhymes that ultimately prove intrusive. It has a comforting college rock sound bathed in melodic melancholia, but the rhymes that start out clever end up too numerous and forced, hiding the interesting sentiments contained within.
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