Album Review: FOAM – Coping Mechanisms (2017 LP)

FOAM, the trio out of Perth who have been making waves since 2012 with the raucous live shows, have this month released their first full length, Coping Mechanisms. Recorded over two years and following up four successful EP’s, Coping Mechanisms is an experimental shift in style that proves this alt-rock act have a far more expansive world of musical knowledge and talent than what their previous releases give away.

The debut LP was mixed and recorded by Andy Lawson at Debaser Studios and mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Services, featuring 10 relentless tracks that use interchanging, surprising elements of punk, alt rock and grunge.

The first two minutes of opening track “Mass Chew” are the most indie-rock two minutes on the record and are a delicate introduction to the album. On first listen it was so unexpectedly soft I cranked the volume and left it that high. Perhaps a clever ploy that makes the listener experience every inch of this record louder than they usually would.

“Get On Board” delves swiftly down a grungier path, highlighting a gnarly use of bass and piercing guitar riffs that battle over the raspy screams of vocalist Joel Martin. “Body Into Mine” brims with 90’s grunge influence and leads with another snarling melody from Martin that crashes sharply amongst the noisy guitars and percussion.

From “The Gift Of Guilt” onwards, things get really interesting. An alternating harmony subdues the harshness of Martin’s previous vocals, as well as the softest melody thus far. It bubbles gently away, never erupting, just simmering, as Martin sings about friends becoming parasites.

“Cope”, similar to later track “Snake Warning”, is a beautifully restrained, instrumental that allows swelling guitars and start/stop percussion to tell a story. Reminiscent of 2007 Explosions In The Sky, both these tracks hold a deep movement within the instrumentals that twist and turn carefully on their own.

One of the album highlights and official single, “I Could Milk Myself”, is an infectiously melodic addition that taps into an indie-rock format. The chorus on this one is less-explosive, but just as grungy.

As with more abrasive tracks “Eat Your Family” and insane closer “When Does It Get Better?”, the format on the album tends to follow a loud, jarring style, without feeling rushed. There’s an underlying haziness to FOAM’s brand of garage-rock that combats the franticness of the overall album sonically and visually. Sure, there are moments of distressed chaos, but they don’t dominate- like in “We Don’t Live In The USA”, which is equal parts screaming and whistling. Essentially, FOAM have drawn on a multitude of styles to craft a head-strong record that moves loudly and effectively, without draining your spirit.

Review Score: 7 out of 10.

Coping Mechanisms is out now.