by Alexandra Hall
Although some old listeners might wince at the overproduced tunes of Bay Faction’s debut album, the evolution of the band’s lyricism and production is beautiful when one takes a closer look. The album stands for just that: change. Dealing with heavy topics like sexuality, religion, and idealism, Florida Guilt is an album of the age.
Bay Faction’s James McDermott, Kris Roman and Alex Agresti bring to the table what most bands nowadays don’t. They bring sensuality rather than pure sexuality. They bring back the human elements of music that most genres have since abandoned, making their sound noticeable from a mile away. Florida Guilt abandons the slow, deep rhythm of their past releases and instead creates a new, upbeat sound, while still staying true to their message of originality and honesty.
Florida Guilt is much more than just an ambiguous title up for interpretation. It is a rejection of the “American Dream”, one popularized by media since Fitzgerald and one instilled into nearly all of us. We grow up, go to school, get a job, find a partner, move to a nice area, have children, and the cycle begins again. Raised in the Catholic faith his whole life, James McDermott, Bay Faction’s head man and lyricist felt especially pressured to live a traditional life. McDermott reveals that his upbringing felt “spiritually violent, like if I didn’t move to Florida and live an average life, then I’d be wrong. By denying it, I kept asking myself ‘am I going to hell for this?’”
Not only was McDermott rejecting the life plan that seemed to be set in stone, he also struggled with his sexual identity. This makes Bay Faction’s music, album and singles alike, so much more powerful. The confusion, the lull of McDermott’s voice, and the brutal honesty of his message all create a sound that no one knows they need until they hear it.
Florida Guilt reflects this suffocation and guilt that went beyond just his early years, making McDermott realize how significant childhood and environment are to not only himself, but his art. Tracks like “One Thrill” especially highlight his feelings of confusion, prevalent in young people’s search for identity amidst a world of pressure.
“One Thrill is about having limited outlets for expression and catharsis making young people turn to drug and alcohol abuse. The song is just a snapshot of those nights,” McDermott says.
Make no mistake, Florida Guilt is not a concept album. The songs are individual entities, unique to their own message and style. It is a cutting board of what Bay Faction has to offer, both stylistically and emotionally. Straying away from the sound of their old singles is not a rejection of their substance at all. It is merely a reflection of the growth of the band and the music, itself. McDermott strives to create an experience for the listener, “Music is so special… I want to suspend someone’s reality even if it’s just for a few minutes.”
Similar to The 1975’s most recent release, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”, Bay Faction’s Florida Guilt pushes the boundaries of production and strives to create a reflection of social norms and a challenge of artistic standards. Whether it’s the consistent two minute lengths, musing on the shamefully short attention spans of the average listener, or the desperation in some of the lyrics begging for validation, Bay Faction paves a new road for themselves and others.
“There is really no main message to it. It’s just some of the answers that I’ve got so far. So maybe just do it. Go with your gut and live your life,” McDermott ended.
Until next time,