Frigs express the frustration of our times on Basic Behaviour

The Toronto band's impressive debut album is urgent and visceral, but a slow burn

Rating: NNNN

If there’s an encapsulating sentiment, or mood, about the prevailing time, it’s this: “This is shit.”

Frigs singer Bria Salmena spits that lyric on II from the band’s debut album. Succinct yet visceral, the line is both an explosion of frustration and a plain and vital proclamation we’ve all likely made at some point. 

The four-piece have been circling the Toronto rock scene for the past few years (formerly as Dirty Frigs), self-producing frenetic, post-punk, grunge-soaked EPs that draw comparisons to PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth. They spent 16 months meticulously crafting this debut, also self-produced, and you can tell. Where their EPs are more of an immediate snapshot, Basic Behaviour is a slower build, one that forces you to engage and sit with the work.

Doghead and Talking Pictures open the record with jutting guitar riffs and thumping percussion. The album’s chaotic immediacy hits a necessary halt on Waste and again on songs Gemini and I. On Gemini, the synth is slow and mournful as Salmena sings “You fill me up with bad omens.” The pulsing electricity humming along for two minutes on I is almost startling as when II kicks in after a pause. 

These details – textures, feelings and moods translated into sonic imprints – elevate the work to a cohesive and impressive debut. It’s proof that taking time, both in creation and in listening and metabolizing an album, is more valuable than ever. 

Basic Behaviour ends with Chest and Trashyard, both of which appeared on a 7-inch released in 2016. Chest is a growling, haunting track about the Brock Turner rape trial, with an exasperated Salmena grunting “Am I safe?” Salmena’s lyrics are urgent and self-reflexive, piecing together the complexities of human experiences. Frigs excel at that: communicating intimate reflections that reverberate like a small stone tossed across a vast lake. 

Top track: Gemini

Frigs play the Garrison on April 7. See listing. | @sarahsmacdonald

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