FRIGS – Basic Behaviour

FRIGS doesn’t hesitate. They come in strong. Their 2018 record Basic Behaviour starts with an anxious pull in opener “Doghead”, filled with abrasive energy and tugged by riffs that shriek in between the gaps of musical phrases. Vocalist Bria Salmena’ drives much of the emotion in each song, with Duncan Hay Jennings’ razor-edged guitars catching up closely from the rear. This tense and furious energy hardly ever ceases through the 10-track, making for a compelling journey full of texture, mood and fury.

These songs are quite possibly the heaviest rock you can imagine where the guitars and drums aren’t the main source of its weight. Salmena’s caustic delivery gives everything a primal edge – capable of evoking raw emotions and influencing certain dark moods even with minimal instrumentation. “Waste” is a good example, with a rhythm that feels like a slow crawl and Salmena sneering : “They say I am healthy, despite my mild dysfunction”. Yet there’s nothing mild about this gloomy track. 

The band’s best hooks are in “II”, one that’s marred with industrial clanging and shrouded with a rumbling percussion that feels raw and unnerving. Salmena’s declarations that: “God is long gone / he is long gone” while shouting that “This is shit / just admit it” in repetition homes in on the themes of uncertainty, frustration and unbridled rage. “Chest” is another good contender, with gripping riffs and tight repetition that echoes the best of post-punk.

Centerpiece “Gemini” provides a sweet moment of respite in one of their slower songs. It has an otherworldly feel with its washed-out synths and choir-like arrangement. Yet there’s a lingering feeling of hurt and sadness with every uttered line. But my favorite pick in their slower cuts is “Heavyweight”, where everything seems to come together for the band. The vocal filter makes Salmena’s vocals sound even thicker — this followed by the tense grating noise of the guitars make this song a spine-chilling experience whenever I come across it (which is frequent as I’ve added this to my favorites).

By letting their emotions (and frustrations) flow freely on the page, FRIGS has crafted a weighty yet catchy compilation of great post-punk. Basic Behaviour shows all the ways we can be messed up, all while transcending these imperfections into something that sounds beautiful nonetheless.

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