Teen Vice Give Listeners a Social Discourse through Rock and Roll
Brooklyn-based band Teen Vice’s debut album came out July 14th. The eleven-track LP features raging sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, sampling different categories within the genre, such as punk, grunge, garage and alternative. These subgenres stood out in music history for their rebellious nature, indicting conventions and the authority for their hypocrisies and mind-dulling demands on society and its populace. Like their fellow artists, Teen Vice incorporate social messages into art, utilizing the medium as a form of activism. Issues of gender identity, sexual frustration and social alienation are part of the discourse that Teen Vice present to their listeners.
Angst surrounding the opposite sex is a recurring theme throughout the tracks. Sexual and social attitudes toward the opposite sex are the cause of numerous frustrations and daily anxiety. In “How Does it Feel,” listeners easily relate to the pangs of, “How does it feel that you are not mine?” The daily unfulfillment of life from the lack of personal intimacy eats at us. Likewise, in “Y U Want 2?” the lines, “Now you got me feeling so sad,” and, “Why you wanna do me like that?” bemoan the same feelings of discontent and disquietude. Seductive, feminine voices impart strong sexual undertones to the track. “Cochon Deluxe” releases the fury and indignation toward men, particularly those who treat women without respect and courtesy. The lyric, “Boys will be boys, pigs will be pigs,” denounces the base tendencies of men, comparing them to animals who live in filth. “Out of Excuses” strikes as a soliloquy to a past lover. Its mild, composed tunes are juxtaposed with the lyrics, which reveal the anxieties and tensions that accompany loving someone and opening up oneself and all of one’s vulnerabilities to another human being: “I’m alright, just wish you were here.” Sex, no matter how much its concomitant social censorships, is a big part of our biology, our identity.
Like sex, status gnaws at our social existence, each of us trying to define and figure out our social placement within whatever hierarchy in which we find ourselves. Guitarist/vocalist Tammy Hart explained to Ravelin that “Kiss It Goodbye” is about her antipathy toward fame, which she sees as perverting the ego. She broke off a relationship when she saw how fame changes and distorts a person: “That song was written back when I was living in the PNW and dating someone on the brink of superstardom. The level of care and attention put into fame was very off-putting for me and what ultimately was the final nail in the coffin of that relationship.” On “Anti-privilege,” the line “fake it till you make it” exposes the gross levels of self-inflicted deformation and maiming that human beings are willing to commit for some temporal illusions. Bassist/vocalist Josh Ackley explained to Self-Titled Magazine, “The ultimate game of chutes and ladders, this one is about watching people weaponize whatever scraps of privilege they may have against one another in order to gain access to the upper echelons of career, money, social status, etc.” Fame, the aspiration to leave a mark of one’s existence, to be desired, to have the confirmation of worth, is something that drives us to connect with other human beings. But, in the process of climbing the ladder, we discard our values, contorting the self for an identity molded by all but ourselves.
Like other punk rock bands, part of Teen Vice’s impetus to compose music lies in the strong desire for the world to hear its messages, to point out society’s errors and the faults within how we treat each other. It is only logical then that rock bands like Teen Vice are loud, ringing, obnoxious, scandalous, boisterous, raucous, yet emphatic, rambunctious, strident, roaring and vehement. It needs to be, or how else is it going to wake us up to our senses?