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Review: Teenage Bottlerocket – They Came From The Shadows

Name: Teenage Bottlerocket
Release: They Came From The Shadows
Release Date: Sept 14th 2009

Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Pop-punk is an oft-abused sub-genre, its detractors accusing it of lacking substance or aesthetic depth. The truth is, the detractors are missing the point – its simplicity is its strength. Pop-punk, as pioneered by The Ramones, mastered by Screeching Weasel, The Queers and Green Day (at least up to ‘Warning’) and bastardised by Blink 182 and Good Charlotte, is ripe with great stuff if you look in the right places and avoid the latter-mentioned chaff. If you’re after something upbeat, punchy and melodic, then Teenage Bottlerocket should be one of your first ports of call.

Wyoming’s TBr have been about for 8 years now, ‘They Came from the Shadows’ being their fourth album and their first for Fat Wreck Chords. Right from the off the album is hooky, fun and unpretentious. Opening track ‘Skate or Die’ contains the lyrical statement of intent that serves as a summary of the whole ethos of TBr and bands of their ilk – “We’re waging war against the posers of the day”. And wage war they do just by producing something so completely uncluttered, natural and honest. Tracks like ‘Do What?’, ‘Don’t Want to Go’ and the title track are lovingly created two-minute masterpieces, of the type that seminal scene stalwarts like the Groovie Ghoulies would be proud to produce. So while TBr not only make perfect pop-punk, they also have a great sense of humour and refuse to take themselves too seriously, exemplified in the track ‘Bigger than Kiss’, which proclaims ‘We’ll be kicking ass, we’ll be taking H, we’ll be bigger than Kiss!” What’s not to like?

Occasionally ‘They Came form the Shadows’ veers from light and melodic to something harder and faster – ‘Fatso Goes Nutzoid’, with its breakneck tempo and barked verses sounds like early Bad Brains or Minor Threat. And while, in the humble opinion of this writer, it isn’t what they do best, these tracks serve as a welcome interlude to the pure melodic bombs that comprise the rest of the album. TBr’s melodies are just so finely-crafted that heads would explode were every track to contain them in their purest form. The perfect example of this is the absolute standout on an album of standouts, track five: ‘Not OK’. I had to turn it off after two minutes due to the pressure building up in my brain. Even now I can only listen to it in 47-second increments, interspersed with 30-second sessions of deep breathing and monastic meditation.

Though summer may be over, if you put this album on and close your eyes, then you can sort of pretend it hasn’t gone away. That’s what I plan to do, anyway.

Reviewer: Dave Forman

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