Dancing through and for adulthood
Punk rock—pop-punk, specifically—is notoriously the outlet of whiny teenage angst. It is the aggressive cynicism of My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers” and the naivety described in Anarbor’s “18,” it is, to some, juvenile. But even starting a mortgage won’t prevent once angsty eyes from rolling. And in August, punk band Teenage Bottlerocket revealed the concerns of adult life in their latest album, Sick Sesh!.
In the track “Strung Out on Stress,” for example, electrifying metal riffs precede a rant about the lead singer Ray Carlisle’s wife and kids, not to mention the physical pains of growing older (and as the name suggests, being stressed about it). “Hello Dana,” on the other hand, reminisces on one’s early twenties with an aptly endearing Simple Plan sound, as if it’s opening an early 2000s high school movie. This bittersweet pop-punk track is indicative of the band’s skate punk influences, as seen in their 2009 “Skate or Die.”
As in such past work, the band again finds a tasteful balance between classic punk and its poppier successors. In an interview with Vinyl Writer Music, lead singer Carlisle admits that some of the band’s biggest influences include The Ramones and Green Day, and both styles are equally apparent on this album. Between the punchy melody and Billy Idol-esque British flair of “You’re Never Going Out of Style” and the apologetic talk-singing of “Ghost Story,” the album fluidly alternates between different subgenres, eras and areas of punk.
What really makes Teenage Bottlerocket stand out, though, is their balance between fun and sincerity. In addition to selling meth-labeled coffee over the summer, Sick Sesh! masters the novelty of pop-punk. “Semi Truck” opens with a running truck engine—a sound that evokes Southern summer days in a Ford F-150. “The Squirrel” tells a goofy story about the friendship between a man and the innocent squirrel that sits outside his window.
After listening to Sick Sesh!, the band should be regarded as a genre essential. Yet, rather than crying with fans through their teen years, as pop-punk is apt to do, each track on this album encourages listeners to dance to their young adulthood and every era after.