Gadunka's Almostopster: Family Force 5 - Business Up Front/Party in the Back

by Gadunka

Mon, 20 May 2024

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Andrew WK, christian edition.

I was 7 years old in 2006. While I don’t remember what I was learning in school or what color of paint chips I was eating, I do remember finding this bizarre CD among my older sister’s collection of christian rock alongside bands like Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, and whatever other acts the middle school youth group was deeming worthwhile. By the time I hit 5th grade, Family Force 5’s debut was a mainstay in my portable CD player, coming along in the backseat on car trips and being spun in the basement on my parent’s stereo system. I had no sense of what made an album “good” or “bad”, but I sure liked the high energy that it had to offer. Now, in the modern age of album nitpicking and extensive reviews, almost everyone I’ve shown this childhood favorite to has expressed that I should never play it around them again. It’s “annoying”, the lyrics are “cringey”, the whole thing “is just awful”. It’s proven itself as an album that’s universally seen as subpar that’s stuck with me almost purely out of childhood nostalgia and personal attachment… and yet, year after year, it’s always up for review any time I craft a reliquary update. Why? Well, because under all that childhood wonder, it still rips. 

Tag yourself

Business Up Front/Party in the Back is a barrage of rock passages, distorted metal riffs, heavy synthesizer use, rap verses, and a general theme of partying, all under the guise of a Christian rock band. On paper this sounds like it’d be awful (to which you will most undoubtedly agree), but the songwriting has enough moments that shine through to make it solid and enjoyable. Plenty of the heavy riffs are groovy and memorable, the synthesizer work is engaging to follow, and the vocal flow is (usually) fun enough to overshadow the wildly varied quality of lyrics. Cadillac Phunque and Kountry Gentleman are our strong introductions to this Atlanta-based group of wackos, giving insight into the collective high points found during the rest of the runtime.Admittedly silly lyrics are paired with catchy riffs and ridiculous synthesizers that blend in some of the more cohesive soundscapes on the album. X-Girlfriend has become a recent favorite, the chunky guitar work really shines here.

Family Force 5' talks near-death experience and name-changing

Tag yourself again

Unfortunately, Drama Queen is our first sign of juvenile lyrics being overly pungent to the point of being overbearing on the music– this song is not very good. Put Ur Hands Up brings it around with an excellent display of sampling and synth usage, a definite standout in the overall variety of tracks. Love Addict reminds us that gang vocals are still bad, and the high points moving onward through the album are patchy at best. While the band still lands an ear-candy riff or creative synth sample here and there, many pieces don’t seem to fit snugly in the way the first few tracks do, leaving a lot of unexplored musical space or downright boring verses and choruses. Notable mentions among the faff here are Replace Me, Peachy (by far the best song on Side B), and Supersonic. The inconsistency of the back half of the album is the reason it never makes it into reliquary material. 


Flaws aside, this album was formative to opening me up to more creative writing styles and varied genre influence, as well as the “full album listen” concept as a whole. Business Up Front… is absolutely credited with getting me ready to enjoy more “weird” or “niche” music later down my listening journey, and I’m glad it’s still worth spinning all these years later. I hope you all find something to enjoy, and remember to keep it C-R-U-N-K in the U.S.A., if you know what I mean.


7 / 10