Release Date: May 21st, 2021
Label: Run For Cover
For Fans Of: Drug Church, Title Fight, Have Heart
When Fiddlehead first formed in 2014, it was more two roommates jamming than anything official. Flash forward seven years and they have one of the year’s most anticipated sophomore albums. The Boston-based five-piece—who are something of a quasi-super group with members of Have Heart and Basement in their ranks—have risen to the occasion on Between the Richness.
Their 2018 debut Springtime and Blind, was a brutally honest depiction of losing a father. While processing grief on tape isn’t new, the raw vulnerability that permeated the whole record was. As soon as the guitars started rattling your walls and lead singer Patrick Flynn’s anguished yells filled your room, you felt an emotional blockage shift—even if you didn’t know you had one. This left many wondering where the band would go from here; Rehash the same pain, or leave behind the material that made Springtime and Blind so great?.
As is often the case in life, there was a third route: Cover the same grief but from the new roles in Flynn’s life—as a husband, father, and someone 10 years on from the pain. Flynn’s approach is philosophical, applying an existential lens to his situation. Grieving a father while being a father offers a strange combination of melancholy and hope, of joy at what you’ve gained but the realization you can’t share it with your lost loved ones. The tension between these poles is what makes the album buzz; you hear it in every scream and scorching riff. Between the Richness deals with real adult stuff, offering one man’s story through some of the peaks and troughs of growing up.
The music supports this. While Springtime and Blind embraced the caustic, post-hardcore sound that befits grief’s anger, Between the Richness lands on the more anthemic corner of the punk spectrum. It’s big choruses are begging to be sung on long car rides, while it’s enticing riffs seem tailor made to draw you in and keep you. The distortion is heavy but the scathing musical tone of Springtime and Blind is gone. The rage has been replaced with a duller sense of daily dread. Fiddlehead have proven themselves masters at matching music to lyrics, with one reinforcing the other. While Springtime and Blind was at times chaos personified, Between the Richness feels more like a cliff-side walk; for the most part stable but there’s always the sense you could fall into a screaming oblivion at any moment. And often you do, with powerful results. ‘Million Times’ is a fascinating blend of this fast and slow approach, leaving you with sonic whiplash. Meanwhile, ‘Get My Mind Right’ is a promissory note for many mosh pits to come. An album of duality, these distinctions reflect the inner turmoil of aging.
Fiddlehead have continued the story they began on their debut. But perhaps more impressively, they’ve created a grown-up punk album that sits somewhere in that grey zone between crushing despair and quiet resolution for things to get better—the spot where most well-lived lives are spent.
Recommended Tracks: Down University