So much has changed so quickly in recent times, it’s hard to even really recognize who we were just a short time ago. Are we ever who we thought we were?
New Minds, the first proper full length in nearly 4 years from Chicago quartet Pink Frost, addresses a collective sense of abrupt changes. “There is a sentimentality or a sense of loss that permeates most of the songs,” says vocalist/guitarist Adam Lukas. “Whether that is the loss of truth, the ones you love, your place in the universe, or general sense of meaning in changing landscapes.”
And while Pink Frost, too, has transformed in that time, New Minds proves to be an immense growth in dynamics, introspection and the band’s own sense of identity. The album showcases a diverging sound in which the straight ahead rock songs are heavier and darker, while the blissed out space jams and melodies are more delicate and personal.
Vocalist/guitarist Adam Lukas and guitarist Paige Sandlin with new bassist Alex Shumard and drummer Jesse Hozeny deftly steer these lyrical themes and sonic trajectories with a fitting starkness as well as melodic contrast. The album’s deep grey on black cover art nicely illustrates the mood captured within.
Album opener and title track “New Minds” wastes no time kicking things off full throttle, setting the album’s tone with driving downstroke guitars and fast-clip syncopated drums as Lukas sings, “there’s no wrong/ There’s no right/ We hide in the light.” Surprisingly, the song about living in a post-truth world was written and recorded before the recent election cycle. Its vision of a looming dystopia just happened to arrive a bit early. “Bare Roots” hits like a long lost outtake from Black Sabbath‘s Sabotage with a brick wall solid riff and Lukas’ wailing vocals leading the charge until the song suddenly subsides into a lulling respite of lightly plucked strings and whispered vocals. But the break is short-lived, as the song again erupts into an even more formidable obelisk of heavy riffs layered with a soaring guitar melody that continually builds upon itself until the song collapses under its own heft. “Avian” takes a turn to more psychedelic balladry of Arthur Lee & Love, showcasing the album’s further explorations into more subdued melodies. The simmering anthem “Burn Before Dawn” leads into the subtle album closer “We No Time” — a slight reference to the song “We Know Time” from the band’s first album, but even more so an adaptation of a song that precedes the band, originally recorded by Lukas on 4-track cassette using drum loops and sounds that were painstakingly reconstructed in the studio. While the song was being mixed, riots were breaking out in the streets during the inauguration of Donald Trump, which can be heard in news snippets fading in toward the end of the song.
New Minds was recorded in Chicago at Steve Albini‘s legendary Electrical Audio studio with engineer Gregoire Yeche, just as the band has done on Sundowning (2013) and the Traitors EP (2014). “Electrical Audio is almost like another member of the band at this point,” Lukas says. “There is a purity to their method that captures the essence of the performance and preserves it in this magical 3-D way.”
Sundowning received an onslaught of praise from such revered outlets as Pitchfork, SPIN, Noisey, Magnet Magazine and Chicago Reader, as well as song placements in a feature film (“The Lookalike”), TV’s The Vampire Diaries, CSI: Miami and more. In December 2015, Pink Frost released a completely remixed, rethought and remastered version of their debut album Gargoyle Days, originally issued under the band’s former name Apteka.