During the search for oneself in the midst of this chaos inducing reality, we seek divine intervention in one’s life to truly inhabit the realised and desired perception of ourselves, which for the longest time seems to have succumbed to the deeply damaging and suppressive nature of modern society. In the wake of such obstacles lining the way to personal freedom and fulfilment comes the surprising third solo studio album Barriers by the Punk/Emo Rock veteran Frank Iero with his newly established backing band The Future Violents.
The entire record seems to hold a dark undercurrent to its lyrical content, which suggests a theory of needing emotional availability to be brushed under the carpet repeatedly to the point of that burden almost becoming cancerous through the guise of internal numbness. In this social climate we are caught in at the moment, a hot ticket item for an in depth conversation comes in the form of the relationship between men and mental Health, which for the most part Barriers seems to inhabit entirely from Iero’s deeply personal perception.
Barriers starting point begins strong with a soulful rock n roll inspired anthem for the lost souls yearning to move past their internal struggle in ‘A New Days Coming’, before divulging into the painfully and authentically raw telling of mental frustration in ‘Young and Doomed’ and ‘Fever Dream’ which is eerily reminiscent of ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’ era Alice Cooper.
Though this isn't a record without flaws as the kitschy confusing melodrama of ‘Medicine Square Garden’ so evidently points out. It's a surprising drop in musical texture and intelligence from the band, and in general feels out of place here. With so many inspired tracks becoming intriguing to dissect due to its under produced and raw like sensibility, MSG fails to live up to the hype of both what precedes it and follow up tracks to come, due to the emotional deprivation taking centre stage which not only effects the overall performance but also the availability to actually understand what is being sung.
However the peak of Iero's master class into the liberation from numbness comes from the penultimate track ‘Six Feet Down Under’. Its chilled 1960’s psychedelic rock n roll dive bar vibe which reeks havoc over the senses for its deeply honest proclamations of how living with an unstable mind frame can make you truly question whether you’re stuck inside a never ending delusion or not.
The overall takeaway from Barriers is a sense of urgency and this is due to the question of what is the idealistic understanding of what makes us normal and what makes us supposedly insane. The obstacles we go through in life truly make us who we are, some for the better, some for the worse, but along that journey another urgent point comes to mind, which is to truly take care and be able to speak of such issues openly and completely honestly without judgement.
The importance of such an album could be the starting block for so many individuals in and outside of this generation to feel comfortable enough to speak about all types of pain and to work through it in a safe and healthy manner. To this we should salute Mr Iero for his bravery to start the conversation.