THE FOES OF FERN TRIUMPH WITH

CARPE DIEM

Review by Kenny Bieber

September 16, 2020

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Good things take time, and when it comes to creating lasting art this motto is even more relevant. For Asbury-park supergroup The Foes of Fern led by virtuoso front man Matt “Fern” Fernicola patience has finally paid off with the release of his highly anticipated LP Carpe Diem which has been 4 years in the making. In that time, Fernicola has served in several local bands in the local music scene, endured several line-up changes and released a strong collection of singles. For an album that was birthed in such circumstances of evolution, one could wonder if the final product could come together to create a singular and cohesive experience. Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes and Carpe Diem is an exhilarating, personal and passionate showcase for the artistry, imagination and sprawling ambition that defines The Foes of Fern as a unique talent.


Musically it seems every genre and style of music is represented on Carpe Diem. Opener “Lydia” is a surging punk rock number with searing lyrics about a lost love and elsewhere on the record elements of orchestral, jazz, ska, rock and pop all filter themselves throughout. Single “Maria Maria” has echoes of 90’s ALT and surf rock with some gorgeous harmonies and tracks such as “Out of Our Heads Vol. 2” and “April Came in The Rain” represent the band embracing blues rock and pop/punk and ska influences with gusto, exuberance and endless energy. The contrast of big bombastic rockers is contrasted effectively by a blend of elegant ballads and orchestra-driven numbers that broaden the album’s musical and thematic scope. Tracks “Sunday” and title track “Carpe Diem” establish themselves as warm soulful tracks that feature lavish arrangements and a sophisticated presentation that highlights the depth and intelligence that runs deep in these songs.

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What’s truly so captivating about Carpe Diem is how organic and honest its subject matter is. Despite it’s big hooks and ideas, the songs that arguably resonate most are the personal ones. Tracks such as “Simple and Plain” which delve into our addiction to social media and “The Monkey” a rollicking take on conformity manage to explore complex ideas in an accessible fashion. In terms of performance, Fern as a vocalist and frontman is tremendously committed throughout pouring out a plethora of emotions with sincerity and intensity. Delving into such emotions could be a risky prospect but thanks to it’s well-rounded nature, each track on Carpe Diem manages to find something effective to say.

As a musical achievement, Carpe Diem was assembled from several years worth of music and one of its most noteworthy aspects is how each of its many collaborators fit seamlessly into the grand scheme. Credit to producer and guitar player Joe Pomarico whose production manages to streamline each of the grand musical ideas here into something streamlined and polished and to current foes roster Victoria Laurence on tuba, Steve Heimbuch on sax, Jessie McCormick on ukulele and vocals and drummer Owen Flannigan for contributions that add layers and texture to the album’s arrangements. The sheer scale and scope of these collaborations can be heard on two of the album’s most defining centerpieces, standout single “Bike Song” a soaring orchestral number where Fern laments over a lost love in the metaphor of a stolen bike and closing track “Ghosts (The Girl in All My Songs)” a 7-minute epic about a failed relationship which manages to combine a sing-along chorus, a horn section and an electric guitar solo with ease and fluidity.

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With so much musically and lyrically on display, what ultimately defines Carpe Diem as a triumph is the honesty and hopefulness it contains. In many ways Carpe Diem is an album about being grateful for what you have and on tracks such as the title track, “Sunday” and even heartbreak closer “Ghosts” the idea of being human is celebrated warts and all. It’s this level of humanity and depth that truly allows the material here to resonate and immerse listeners fully. Carpe Diem has many strengths but perhaps its greatest is that it’s able to remind us we’re all human and in this together and it’s a tremendously resonant message especially in a year such as this. The fact it’s able to pull it off while sounding this ambitious and artful is the icing on the cake. If you have an opportunity to experience this record I highly suggest you seize it.


Top Tracks: “Carpe Diem,” “Bike Song,” “Ghosts,” “Simple and Plain,” “Maria Maria,” “Sunday,” and “April Came In The Rain”

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📸 Show Photos by Diane DiMemmo 📸



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