Angel and Lulu Prost aren’t known for their light touch. Since joining forces as Frost Children, the siblings have embraced face-melting maximalism as a guiding principle, drawing inspiration from the least subtle strains of EDM, electro-punk, and hardstyle as much as they do Spongebob Squarepants. Their wildly unstable approach to hyperpop is equal parts sugar and spice and knees and elbows; a riot of cartoon violence designed to climax in 15-second bursts of shout-along chaos. What supposedly distinguished them from high-octane acts like 100 gecs or the Garden boiled down to their location (New York City), frame of reference (aughts pop), and a spate of trend pieces situating them at the intersection of indie sleaze and (depending who you asked) the death or rebirth of downtown nightlife. But the music alone was proof enough that the Prosts were talented producers whose many good ideas waged war fruitlessly against each other.
This spring’s SPEED RUN revealed Frost Children’s potential as hard-partying shit-starters while also highlighting the limits of their thinly drawn, attitude-heavy approach. But nestled among the pinging video game samples, shredded punk vocals, and Richter scale-moving drops were hints of a gentler and sweeter sound, one that swooned rather than sneered. You can hear flickers of it in the winsome Eurohouse beat of “All I Got” and the disarmingly romantic lyrics of the earlier “Worship U,” moments when the duo seemed to drop the act and grow a heart. Though recorded alongside SPEED RUN, Hearth Room is an infinitely more agreeable collection that introduces a new level of feeling to their work.
Hearth Room feels like a radical reinvention but it’s the product of brutally effective fine-tuning. Gone are the meme lyrics, the relentless dance beats, the bratty antagonism. The songs follow more conventional pop structures and don’t get derailed by verbal or musical non sequiturs. When “Birdsong” peaks with a screamo wail, it feels like a moment of loving surrender rather than random dissonance. The Prosts play to their strengths as rock musicians while using electronic flourishes sparingly and strategically. On the stuttering, agitated “Stare at the Sun,” the siblings take turns spitting out visceral romantic disillusionment, as Lulu’s guitar and Angel’s bass lock horns in a tricky math-rock melody. As the beat fades, a flurry of jagged synths enters the mix before shifting suddenly into a punishing breakdown.