“Hypochondriac’ is the most comfortable I’ve been with a record thus far” says The Frights vocalist/guitarist Mikey Carnevale “I care a lot about these songs because they’re embarrassing and personal”. Suffice to say ‘Hypochondriac’, the San Diego band’s third LP, is a confessional album that traverses a clutch of intimate moments, touching on mental health and lost love, and how these factors can challenge a person’s resolve – hence a song appropriately called ‘My Broken Brain’. Whilst the album’s subject matter is raw and challenging, sonically the record pivots on an inventive angle – with songs mainly constructed on acoustic guitar foundations but gradually amassing quirky layers of sound akin to a sonic sketchbook of influences. At times ‘Hypochondriac’ can be a jarring experience though, Carnevale’s clean cut American vocal delivery seems out of step with the words he’s conveying and with the ample smattering of “fucking/fuck/shit” his potty mouth sounds like a Disney Channel star who’s finally been allow to “be themselves”.
Riddled with angst and raw sentiment ‘Hypochondriac’ is an album that will ring true with those grappling with the throes of adolescence and the exaggerated mood swings that come with it. ‘Crutch’ is where The Frights crank up the volume and unleash an ample portion of rage as the band and Carnevale go full tilt with the frontman screaming his lungs out; a song that’s a curveball amongst the poppier moments on the outfit’s third outing. ‘Over It’ is pure pop-punk anthemic brilliance, custom built for the now defunct Warp Tour (rest in peace). Chugging riffs and soaring vocals push the song skywards as the band’s mouthpiece asks the question “we used to be something I admit/aren’t you over it?”.
Whilst pop-punk forms the cornerstone of the album, ‘Hypochondriac’ takes the occasional left turn into the random alleyways of music’s broad roadmap. ‘No Place Like (Not Being) Home’ bounces with a subtle ska lilt while ‘Hold Me Down’ is bestowed with a lonesome country twang as Carnevale declares “I’m tired of making out and never making up”. Turbulent affairs of the heart make up a good chunk of the band’s new album, but it also hints at challenges with anxiety and depression. ‘Pills’ has the frontman musing “is it hard waking up every day?” while opening track “Tell Me Why I’m Okay” through it’s strange noises and warped sonics paints a picture of someone struggling with the pressures of everyday life “there’s a piece of me breaking inside everyday”. Kudos to The Frights for opening up the conversation about mental health – it’s a taboo subject and the more people talk about it, the more that taboo will become a thing of the past.
‘Hypochondriac’ is a mixed-up record, it’s brimming with ideas but they don’t always come together both sonically, vocally and lyrically but you have to applaud The Frights for making a record that breaks with convention and exposing their vulnerable side
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams