By: Derek Spencer
The cleverly named, mysteriously manned, and LA-based Family First, Second Nature spits out dynamic post-hardcore tunes on their 2015 debut 4-track EP, Hunt ’em Up.
At its best, the album channels a traditional Gothic-Americana rock energy, expressed through pounding rhythms, hammered-on riffs, and Lovecraftian imagery. Family First leads with their heaviest hitter, “Talley Marked”– a slightly disjointed but nonetheless propulsive anthem of violence and condemnation (“And tendrils spread until it left for dead the earth that held its breath and the planter’s hopes were all but choked”). “Dead Bird”, an acoustic-driven track about fraternal betrayal, sees the unnamed vocalist decry traditional values with whiny flair (“What’s the point in bravery?// Everything’s lost. I’ll watch you burn in hell with me”). “Bedouin Hearts” closes the EP, taking its place as the familiar polyrhythmic slow-burn about destructive love (“Early on we grew to hubris and left our guards wide open// Now the sound of our groans have grown grating”).
The line “a change of heart doesn’t change what you are” appears in both the first and final tracks, less like a bookend thesis and more like a reminder of circularity, frivolity, and the inevitability of identity. Family First forsakes intention and embraces visceral consequence, a compelling gesture toward a zero-sum game. At once plodding and rapid, the arc of the EP is that dream you can’t remember, but can still feel.
Yes, the repetitious Bible reference and horizontal song progression can give reason for pause, but Hunt ’em Up rewards the listener with a penchant for suspending slight incredulity. The melodies aren’t earworms, but the melancholy is contagious. In fact, a close reading of the lyrics does the listener a disservice; better to let the hyperbolic allegories fall by the wayside (as the line phrasings might indicate is the writer’s intention) and serve as blended ingredients in this coldly mixed and slowly served offering of destitute courage.