Review: Bay Faction's 'Florida Guilt' by Lisha Gabrielle

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Bay Faction's new album "Florida Guilt" starts with a much rather eerie mood setter with ​"Faux Snow Globe". ​The brief intro to the album is simple but eerily fascinating. You’re hooked into a trance produced by James McDermott’s very hush and haunting vocals paired with the soft buzz of the guitar. With simple lyrics: “​Think I won’t... Think of the cold trapped inside. Silver snow globe.” McDermott exceptionally balances the hushed tones of his voice with the subtle playing of chords that pulls you into a black hole.

"Florida Guilt" comes off brief but strong, each song resonates with various struggles that come with self-discovery and with the consequences of letting yourself go. With upbeat songs like “It’s Perfect” and “1K” McDermott experiments with upbeat rhythms but continues to stick to his sentimental way of expression through strong lyricism. As artists, Bay Faction avoids taking its audience on a stroll around the park and would rather invite them on a late car ride to downtown speeding down an empty freeway.

From a seamless transition from “Donor” to “Florida Guilt” we are presented with a song that captures the essence of Bay Faction. With hauntingly deep vocals, McDermott expresses the self-destructive way of dealing with existential hopelessness, “​I keep my teeth clean for two weeks. Shaken, headachy, caked in, wake up queasy... Talk through every window. Tell them how I feel, I just want to feel permanent.” The track has its way of making its audience sink through the floor. Through McDermott’s resonated vocals, paired with very smoothly played instrumentals, it delivers perfection.

Then we move onto a steady and rhythmic song, “Soppping”. McDermott continues to explore the theme of what it means to grow up, along with the struggles that come with accepting reality, “Try to forgive, try to lose my past. Cruel and never looking back. Am I sick? What's the bug? / Young life, what’s it like? How’s it disappear?” McDermott’s use of sentimental lyricism paired with his hush but powerful vocals result in a very melancholic medley.

Songs like “Soppping” from Florida Guilt, resonate with people who struggle to find parts of themselves, and are challenged to stomach the uncomfortable changes that come with accepting the impermanence of youthful bliss. It is beautifully relatable, and with its very drippy instrumentals, it’s the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

Image via @bayfaction on Instagram

Before the end of the album, the track “Cameras in the Home” smoothly moves into “One Thrill”. “One Thrill” gives its audience a paradox, through lyrics about being carelessly free, hence the title “One Thrill”. McDermott explores the chaotic bliss associated with the nightlife routine. With lyrics that express chaos: “Look at me cutie. Am I still the same guy...? That I was when we crashed last night? / I fall in love even if it's not right / It's all coming back. Find me in the bathroom. Nose in a bag. Shut the stall door.”

McDermott paints a chaotic picture of what it means to be carefree and to act out of pure impulse. If this were to be a real-life experience, you would be spending your time in a house party inside of a washroom, the loud music muffled behind thick doors. Silhouettes engulfed by neon lights, a one-night stand, and having to deal with consequences of emotional attachment. Bay Faction packs these vivid images into this upbeat song that concludes their album exceptionally.

“Florida Guilt” is a fantastic album and was worth the three year wait after their self-titled release. Bay Faction has come back with a new sound, but they continue to make music with the same beautifully moody sentiment.

I give "Florida Guilt" a solid 8/10.


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