Frontier(s) - There Will Be No Miracles Here (Cover Artwork)


There Will Be No Miracles Here (2010)

Arena Rock

The worst thing about the debut LP from Frontier(s) is that upon taking it out of the mailer from No Sleep Records, I discovered my favorite song from the CD version I'd downloaded ("Dirty Pets") was seemingly absent from the vinyl. This is quite a shame, as it's bound to end up on my year-end mixtape of hits. Anyway.

Frontier(s) marks a return to form of ex-Elliott frontman Chris Higdon. There Will Be No Miracles Here sonically resembles the series of 7"s Elliott released between U.S. Songs and False Cathedrals: loud, distorted guitars and soaring vocals over simple but great hooks that build to some great crescendos. The most noticeable difference is the rather fantastic, fanatical drumming of Eagle Barber (ex-Stay Gold). And where Elliott was lyrically famous for songs about failed or famous romances, Frontier(s) seems more politically pointed.

Higdon's voice has never been stronger, and like Elliott, remains the most powerful instrument in the band (just edging out the drums, because man, they are fantastic). In "Bones" alone, his vocals start in a light accompaniment and build with the song to a thunderous, almost maniacal chant of, "Hear the bones on the street / rattle on, rattling / rattle on."

While much of the sentiment on There Will Be No Miracles Here seems to come from the heart of a nation morally defeated by nearly a decade of war, Higdon still is able to bring the powerful but cynical ambition of hope to the lyrics, as "Abul Abbas" ends in what some could consider a sequel to "Lie Close," a standout from Elliott's False Cathedrals. Over soaring guitars, Higdon screams, "You and I were born as one / together we will stay. You and I / we will stop the world / and never lose our way." And in the CD finale, "Dirty Pets," Higdon's voice is at its best as he questions, "Who in the world is going to save you like I can?"

There Will Be No Miracles Here is not guaranteed album-of-the-year material, but it puts up a pretty good fight as a contender. Fans of Elliott will not be let down, as between the LP and the 7", this band has not yet released a song I'd consider skippable, much less "bad." I could see this getting too quickly overlooked, but in a time when so many bands are seemingly unsure who to emulate and rarely have an original spark, Frontier(s) just takes a cue from who they've been before and have released a welcome sound that is all their own.

The vinyl version of There Will Be No Miracles was handled by No Sleep Records.