Reviewed by Jade Finkle

The Pink Frosts: Faux Pas

Reviewed by Jade Finkle

The Pink Frosts: Faux Pas

Fresh on the scene, The Pink Frosts have unleashed a quintessentially Kiwi debut recording, with all its flaws proudly on display. But beneath the limitations of amateur production and sloppy performance lie an intriguing sound, solid songwriting and the potential of great things to come.

The Te Whanganui-a-Tara-based four-piece leans heavily into the lo-fi, homemade aesthetic with their brand of new-wave/garage-punk. There is an odd contrast between the different elements of the music. The vocals, always placed directly at the front and centre of the soundscape, are often overdriven into fuzzy distortion, especially in the more raucous tracks (see the opener and lead single, Mr Big) – a sound familiar to any fans of garage-punk. However, the rest of the instrumentation takes a surprisingly atmospheric approach, with evident clarity and musicality.

The vocals aside, the first thing that catches the listener’s attention is bassist David Escott’s distinctive tone and play style. It’s a clear, mid-heavy sound with strong chorus and reverb effects, playing gloomy lead melodies. The sound is immediately reminiscent of ’80s goth rock, especially when combined with the old-school keyboard sounds.

The other instruments play their respective roles, but mostly remain secondary to the bass. Oliver Gaskell’s thin guitar tone ranges from the heavy riffs of head-banging rocker Rat to light, cleaner flourishes such as those in White Picket Fences. Drummer Peter Molteno is pushed fairly far back in the mix and avoids showiness or complexity while Hedley Dew adds occasional simple keyboard melodies, filling out the texture.

But it’s Dew’s lyrics and vocal style that give ‘Faux Pas’ its personality. Across the album, he delivers scathing criticisms and tongue-in-cheek commentaries on subjects ranging from right-wing bigotry to the struggles of 21st-century life. That classic UK punk inflexion is utilised, but Dew’s Kiwi accent takes the floor as he spits lines in a brash deadpan. This is the sound of a singer who doesn’t care about flashy technique or pretentious mimicry of his international influences. He just wants to have fun and stay true to himself while laying out his crass satire.

And this carefree approach is held by the band as a whole. “This music was not made to please anyone but ourselves”, they announce, and you can bet this won’t be changing any time soon. Their staunch independence can be heard in the unique blend of genres, but even more so in the rough home recording-style production. Although great albums exist with lower production value than this, ‘Faux Pas’ contains a decent dose of inconsistent mixing, unbalanced parts and the occasional slip-up in performances.

The Pink Frosts get their message across here, no doubt about it. With nine tracks covering a brief 30 minutes, we get a taste of the lo-fi approach, the in-your-face lyrical messages and the musical styles. There is plenty of room to develop and move forward without compromising their proud DIY approach – perhaps tightening up the performances a little; polishing the production quality just a touch to better showcase their songwriting and instrumental sensibilities. However, for those seeking out some underground pop talent in Aotearoa, this will definitely scratch that itch and present a more unique take on the sound than you’ll usually hear in your local punk bar.

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