Home Front Can't Be Beaten Down on 'Games of Power'

BY Paul BlinovPublished Mar 2, 2023

Home Front's first album feels more like a lost classic than a modern debut, a thrilling convergence of eras that spans uplifting new wave, sinister post-punk, rhythmic krautrock and shout-chant punk. Crucially though, Games of Power is unified by a clarity of vision, as the Edmonton band manipulate their chosen scope of sounds in a way that lands sharply in the here and now. 

Home Front is the brainchild of Graeme MacKinnon (of punk stalwarts No Problem and the Wednesday Night Heroes), and Clint Frazier (of electro-dance bands Shout Out Out Out Out and Physical Copies). The duo's combined CV melds into something special here — with Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco on production duties, the duo have crafted an album of jump-kick synth-punk, full of muscular riffs and searching emotions. It's a collection of rallying cries for bleak winter nights.

"Faded State" sets the anthemic tone — punchy guitars, melodic synth lines and precise rhythms — that carries throughout the record as it chases gleaming highs and scours shadowy lows. Album highlight "Nation" lets a massive gang-chant hook guide its chorus with fist-pumping vigour, while "Overtime" lingers on darker, self-questioning tones. "Face Value" scales up to cinematic '80s pop, and the title track leans into a deep electronic groove of programmed and live drums, layering synths and, briefly, cowbell. 

Games of Power builds on 2021's Think of the Lie EP, offering a more fully realized version of its ideas: the instrumental focus on synth, programming and guitars effortlessly shifts from song to song, finding a balance between raw power and introspective moments. Closer "Quiet World" manages both, a slow-burn build to a climactic, cathartic release.

Throughout Games of Power, MacKinnon's lyrics stare down the world-weariness of modern existence — "nobody here gets out alive" he declares in the album's very first vocal, followed shortly by the robotic chant of "Material gain, material joy / Morally aimless dreams destroyed" on "Real Eyes." However, the music seems energized by the struggle against modern malaise; things are fucked, and the wrong people always have the upper hand, but Games of Power heralds itself with thrilling brio in spite of it all.
(La Vida Es Un Mus Discos)

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