By Cole Parker
Cecil Frena has been around for a while. The mastermind behind Edmonton weird pop acts Gobble Gobble and Born Gold, he’s also worked with other lauded acts from that scene like Purity Ring, Grimes and Chairlift. The Gridlock is his debut under his birth name, his first full release since 2013 and a noticeable shift towards a different sound.
A lot of care is placed into the sonics of the record. Layered synths and vocals, wildly varied guitars, and Frena’s experience with glitchy pop music is channeled into furious growls of feedback and noise that feel so, so good.
“Nerves Grow Rust” and “All of My Heroes” open the album with some great synth-singed pop rock before you hear the chugging of a car engine, a count, and a stellar drum fill that leads you into the hardcore track “Unknow Yourself.”
The Gridlock feels like an artist deconstructing his identity, musical and otherwise, and letting us watch as he pulls the pieces back together, with lyrical content to match. A bank robber speaks aloud the existential crisis brought on by L.A. property prices, Frena reluctantly confesses love, and asserts that dancing on an airplane might treat some of his nihilistic woes.
The Gridlock is a horribly fun rebirth of an artist who’s still actively finding the best version of themselves.Cecil Frena, Hovercraft/Kissability, The Gridlock