Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gimme Pink:

The color's changed, and that's about it.

But sometimes, at least in the case of Teenage Bottlerocket's fifth album, that isn't such a bad thing.
Gimme Pink
Teenage Bottlerocket's 'Freak Out!' / Album Review
August 29
by Chris Homa
Gimme Pink
Teenage Bottlerocket's 'Freak Out!'
/ Album Review
Released July 3 on Fat
Words By Chris Homa
I imagine a future when people will walk into a record store, ask for Teenage Bottlerocket, and instead of being shown to a specific section they’ll be handed a color swatch. Instead of naming an album like Warning Device or Total, the customer will simply point to a color and say, “I think I’ll try that one.”

And of course some bystander will intervene, “Don’t you care to see what the album is?” To which the customer will say, “Fuck no. They’re all good.”

The only distinguishing characteristics separating one Teenage Bottlerocket album from the next are the color of the cover and the title. Otherwise they all bare the same skull and rockets, and to be truthful, they tend to sound the same. Freak Out!, the newest release from the Laramie, Wyoming group, is no exception. Same skull and rockets, same bristling pop punk, but now in pink.

And like all other Teenage Bottlerocket efforts, it’s pretty good.

The record blasts off with a forty-second punk rock repetition of the phrase “freak out”, before getting to the meat of the matter. The second track, “Headbanger”, is a good gateway into the group’s particular brand of songwriting. Like the pop punk bands before them, Teenage Bottlerocket sings short songs about relatively silly subjects. “Headbanger”, for example, describes a heavy metal concert and the titular head banging that ensues. The combination of humorous lyrics - “He whipped his head around so fast he gave himself a concussion,” – and fast, hard punk, gives the group that feeling of fun that every pop punk band strives for.

Freak Out! also manages to sidestep a common pitfall of the genre: songs about girls. That’s not to say that Teenage Bottlerocket doesn’t sing songs of romance, but at a ratio of one romantic song to every two nonromantic ones, the album keeps things fresh and interesting. The best example is “Maverick”, which chronicles the adventures of Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun. The subject makes for some wicked lyrics, and the compact but varied song structure drives a wedge between it and the monotonous drone so common in punk: muted guitar alternates with distorted, woah’s drop in and out, and hi-hat eighths come together for one of the album’s best songs.

There’s no real low point throughout the record in terms of either quality or tempo. The closest thing to a slower song is the BDSM-themed “Mutilate Me”, due to the offbeat rhythm played during the verses. On the other end, there’s “Who Killed Sensai?” and “Punk House of Horror”, both around a minute forty and both highlights of the album.

The only throwaway track is “Summertime”, not because it’s actually bad but because it’s easily forgettable. Besides that, Freak Out! is another Teenage Bottlerocket record that, while not revolutionary, is a pleasure to listen to.

To put it another way, someday a kid in a record store will point to the swatch and say, “Gimme pink.”

And he won’t be disappointed.
Posted on August 29, 2012


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