by Jacob Carter
Artist: Lovely Bad Things
Album: Teenage Grown Ups
Release Date: August 25, 2017
One of the things inherent to punk rock and all the genres that derive from it is a combative resentment of the way things are, or feeling like you’ve been dealt a bad hand in life. This is especially true of music made by and for young people in 2017. Personally, I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with people my own age about not feeling ready for the responsibility that comes with adult life. Simply put, there’s a reason there’s so much ‘adulting’ merchandise. All of these grievances are a big part of what makes up Teenage Grown Ups, the new album from California-based surf rockers Lovely Bad Things. While the entire album isn’t about the growing pains involved with getting your life on track, that’s the lens that every song is written through.
Coming four years after the band’s first full length LP The Late Great Whatever (but only a couple months after their Homebodied EP), Lovely Bad Things have established that they like to take their time in writing new music. Over the course of that time, and with a few singles along the way, the band has sharpened their sound into something darker and a little wiser for it. Co-vocalist Lauren Curtius features more prominently on this album than on Whatever, taking the reins as the driving melodic force on nearly every song on the album. Her vocals are more pointed on Grown Ups than in the past, having only barely slowed down the band’s playful energy in order to get her point across. The same can be said of co-founders Camron and Brayden Ward who share vocals with Curtius, and pretty much every other instrument credit on the album. Whereas Whatever’s sound fell more in line with FIDLAR and early Best Coast, Grown Ups shares more DNA with DIY contemporaries like Colleen Green and Yucky Duster, and the band is all the better for it.
While there’s certainly a lot of grief about getting older to be heard on this album, it would be hard to call any of these songs downers. Curtius and the Wards are able to channel their jaded feelings into songs that are fun to sing along to. There’s unmistakably some resentment there, but the band never gets bogged down with it. “I’m not gonna hide but honey you’d better,” sings Curtius on “I Just Want You to Go Away”, refusing to put up with the things (and people) life throws at her. There’s also a distinct sadness present in lines like “Why doesn’t it taste good?” which Curtius repeats at the end of “Cartoon Food” as she tries to figure out why she’s not happy with the things that she sees making other people happy.
Despite everything, Teenage Grown Ups never comes close to sounding whiny. To Lovely Bad Things, bad experiences are something to be bonded over, and they’re part of what make you up. Even though so many young people in 2017 feel like the future looks grim for the world they’re about to inherit, there’s still room for getting to know someone that you like, like in “Julian’s House” or “Thora Birch”. On Grown Ups, being 100% pessimistic is giving up, so while there’s room to complain in 2017, there isn’t time to wallow in your own anger.