“SPIRAL” by Frost Children breaks down your front door and explodes onto the scene to reveal some of the most fun and fresh hyperpop this year.
Siblings Lulu and Angel Frost have been releasing music as Frost Children since 2019, and dropped their sophomore album “Elixir Rejection” last year. Their earlier music is a display of pandemic experimentation: dense, esoteric, and designed for Minecraft festivals. “SPIRAL” signifies a step into the great outdoors – taking the foundations of their earlier digital work and bringing it into the IRL, as the world slowly wakes up from its years-long slumber.
The lead single, “FOX BOP” opens with confident chanting vocals: “Fox Bop highscore, I just hit the highscore”. I struggle to decipher any meaning, but that’s irrelevant with a hook as catchy as this. Most of the memorable lines within the album are belted out by both siblings – it’s a staple sound of the album, and just makes me want to start dancing and join in with the chorus. The backing is an icy digital dance beat, with an unforgettable synth lead. “FOX BOP” is a great opener for the album, showing the duo’s versatility. Every other line has a completely different vocal delivery, they shift through different personas and explore the extremes of each cold emotion the song brings out. Like the rest of the album, the song moves quickly through ideas and sections, showcasing each concept as simply as possible.
The album packs a lot of versatility into its 14 tracks, traveling across all manner of electronic genres while weaving a cohesive through-line with its excellent transitions and callbacks. The song “MAKE THE FLOOR DIED” is a terrifying hyperpop/trance banger taking inspiration from the darker elements of SOPHIE’s music. The repeated whisper-chant “Make the floor died” is twisted and contorted throughout the song – some sections in particular taking my breath away with their cruel sound design. You wouldn’t expect the song to evolve into a church hymn by the end, yet that’s the last section before a ghostly noise ends the track. “MAYFLY” follows the song, opening with dark solo vocals that blend seamlessly with the tone of the previous track. The atmosphere is carried over so well that by the time the guitar and drums kick in you don’t realise the genre has already switched up. This is all the more effective when, after 2 minutes of a relatively energetic emo pop song, the last vocal line cuts the background track for one more final “Make the floor died”, just as you thought you’d escaped that sonic hell.
My favourite song, “SNAIL’S PACE” appeals to my rock sensibilities, with its guitar-centred design. Somehow, it manages to be a highly emotional pop-punk song about being a snail. “Wouldn’t life be better at a snail’s pace?” is such a simple thesis statement, yet one that easily resonates with anyone that’s struggling with the constant acceleration of modern society. The song reads to me as a wish for a world without greed, the line “Burning coal makes us live in squalor” speaking against the effect of Capitalism on the world’s climate. The production on this one showcases everything I love about the genre. Loud insane drums and guitar cut away to the gentlest of synths, before combining them together for the verse. The harpsichord behind the line “Don’t want to be lavish” works so well in creating regal imagery within just a few seconds, but is then immediately dropped for the response “I’ll just live among the cabbage”. This is how Frost Children work: They’re introducing new sounds and concepts to help showcase their ideas as simply as possible, and then dropping them just as quick to do the same thing for the next idea. Their production is a sharp blade, full of maximised efficiency and rapid doses of fun.
Lyrically, most of the songs on “SPIRAL” are difficult to fully understand at first. A lot of care is taken to paint clear visual imagery within the songs, such as the soft garden life of “SNAIL’S PACE” or the dreamlike world in “LAKE OF LOVE”. Within these worlds, Frost Children either explore fun production techniques (There’s a cut here that’s entirely composed of laughing samples) or indelicately display the album’s most prominent themes: regret and self-hatred. In particular, many songs reference the negative self-image issues that many trans people face. The song “HARP + PONY” makes this the most clear with the lines “The body I was born into is just like my little curse” and “The way I want to be a girl or how I wasn’t at first”. A lot of songs on this album seem to reference specific people and events within the lives of Frost Children, “I LIKE IT” tells us explicitly with “I fucked my only chance of a life” and “The moments I fuck up / I see your reactions”. Similarly, the chorus of “LOSER” chants “You could never be with me, I’m an asshole / I could save you the time, I’m so sorry / I got a lot of shit that puts me in a bad mood / You should never try to win over a loser”.
However, I feel that labeling the album to just one theme is redundant. In an interview, Frost Children stated that “Life is just a never-ending spiral and hopefully it’s upward”. It’s clear they have a sense of hope about them, and even amongst their darkest songs they’ll reveal there’s still a little love and hope left. The aforementioned “I LIKE IT” definitely exemplifies some real darkness with lines like “As long as I’m spineless, I’ll never be noticed”, but the song gradually changes both in emotion and instrumentation. The chorus is simply the soft whisper “I like it” repeated, and each section adds new layers of instruments – fragile synths and wailing samples mesh together as the song builds and builds to its minute-long outro. Their vocals burst forward, with their usual energetic chanting for the first time in the entire song, calling out “I love you” over and over again.
I feel that the most important thing about “SPIRAL” is that it’s just completely different every 30 seconds. It’s incredibly hard to categorise into any specific genre or emotion because the duo seemingly want everything at once, and surprisingly they actually pull it off. Listening to this for the first time was one of the best surprises all year, and the only thing I want from them now is more.
Listen to “SPIRAL” here.
– Gray (@polygoncove) (Staff Writer)