As a band formed amid the urban decay of Detroit, Frontier Ruckus have always included a bit of world-weary dreariness in their music. But with their upcoming fifth album, there's one distinct flash of levity.
The Michigan-based folk-rockers will release Enter the Kingdom on February 17th, and along with the stories of out-of-work dads and parking-lot drinking sessions is the cheeky first single "27 Dollars." (Watch the video premiere of the song above.)
With gentle 12-string guitar strumming, rolling banjo and almost bashful vocal harmonies, it's a light and airy pop throwback about a girl who got a fancy job and left her average-Joe boyfriend behind. She won]t even give him the time of day, but what really sucks is that she still owes him 27 bucks (and she know's what it's for).
"While I was writing the songs for Enter the Kingdom, a lot of the subject matter was rather heavy," says Frontier Ruckus singer and songwriter Matthew Milia. "'27 Dollars' was sort of an escapist reaction against that, allowing myself to indulge in classic power-pop tricks that are designed to make the listener feel good."
Recorded by Wilco drummer Ken Coomer in Nashville, Milia says the band ended up highlighting the song's catchier elements – like hand-claps and tambourine slapping – making it a moment of "pop gratification" on an otherwise serious and thought-provoking folk album. Directed by Noah Elliott Morrison, the video adds another layer of contrast. Like the song, it somehow feels both hopeful and a little dead inside at the same time.
"Shooting the video in Detroit felt right," Milia says. "We returned to the specific landmarks where I had paced around nervously in the first place, like the character in the song – wishing for things he'll never have but feeling very alive due to the desire."