Album Review: Bay Faction—’Florida Guilt’

Posted: by The Editor

Bay Faction’s sophomore album, Florida Guilt, is a deviation from the hopeless nature that characterized them in their inception. Their most-played track on Spotify, “Sasquatch .22,” details unreciprocated affection, drinking as a coping mechanism, and suicidal thoughts. Another one of their singles, “Pendulum,” includes the lyric “depressed, directionless and weak.”

However, the record, which dropped last Friday, isn’t a complete revamping. Bay Faction have always had a talent for producing music that resonates with people in their twenties. While in the past, that relatability has often been in the form of expressing struggles with depression and anxiety, now, the band is steering itself towards the fleeting nature of youth. This is best captured at the end of “Cameras in the Home” with  the line, “I’m always lost because I run when I’m bored / Is that what being young is for?”

Florida Guilt veers toward whimsicality and frolicking. The production feels bare and stripped down, while the lyrics are symbolic and, at times, elusive. With several tracks dancing around the two-minute mark, the album is neatly trimmed to ensure listeners won’t lose interest. While many vocalists escalate to high notes for emphasis, lead vocalist James McDermott opts for a more smooth and husky tone that periodically dips even lower.

The album’s opener, “Faux Snow Globe,” progresses at the speed of a horizontal escalator. Throughout the track’s 37 words, McDermott balances somewhere between a hush and a whimper. The guitar chords are just as muted as the vocals, as if neither wanted to ride shotgun.

“It’s Perfect” details the arc of ghosting a brief fling. It’s punchy and adventurous, comparable to the stylings of Motion City Soundtrack, and accompanied by choppy guitar riffs. The track introduces itself with “start a convo in a CVS / finish at your house”—the sort of “how did you meet?” story that only seems plausible in a movie, as people typically visit CVS aiming for limited human interaction. Mcdermott warns “no more after this one” twice before the song’s culmination, confident their fling will culminate abruptly.

“Donor” continues this momentum, but with a dose of self-awareness. Again, the track characterizes modern dating customs—i.e. keeping things casual and unbound. McDermott realizes he’s not much of an empath, singing “I don’t have the facility to know what you felt.” But he may be wrestling with affection after all, as he later states “I keep pictures of us.”

The record’s title track is sleek and laden with glamour and ritzyness. It seems to center on a life many of us fantasize about, with idealized imagery like “gold flake champagne” and “glittery cinnamon.” (Aesthetic, but perhaps inedible.) This is a track to live vicariously through as we lounge in pajamas purchased from Costco.

Florida Guilt is dreamy and lively, while still being punctuated by inner turmoil. It’s an album that takes listeners through the highs and lows of not quite having your life together, but at the same time, wondering if the excitement will come to a halt when you finally get your ducks in a row

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Bineet Kaur | @hellobineet

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.