Album Review: When We Were By Teen Agers
Release Date July 13th 2018, Through Smartpunk records.
Five years after their 2013 album ‘I Hate It,’ the Florida based quartet Teen Agers return, not only older and more matured, but having dealt with personal loss in their time away. ‘When We Were’ perfectly reflects this, with a sound that is more aggressive and experimental in its approach and with lyrics that are darker in tone and subject manner.
The band’s pop sensibilities are still very much present, especially on tracks such as ‘Jar Breaker’ and ‘Never let me down’ which, with their catchy power chord riffs and sing along chorus’s, would fit inconspicuously on any late 90's punk compilation album. Tracks such as ‘Self-abuse,’ ‘We Fly’ and ‘Where We Exist’ however, lean towards a much more post-hardcore sound, and it is here where the album shines the most. This is new territory for the quartet, but it suits them perfectly, as they explore a sound that is both heavier but also more melodic. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but the group do it very well, and certainly any fans of Far, Finch or the like will appreciate this new direction.
Lyrically the album covers new ground for the group as well, as lead singer Justin Goldman explores anxiety (‘Overreacting’), the use of medication to deal with depression (‘Jar Breaker’), friendship (‘Loose ends’) and loss (‘Jen,’ ‘We Fly,’ and ‘Take Everything’) with the latter being the most prevalent theme on the album. Goldman’s lyrics are fairly concise and to the point, whilst also containing enough originality to avoid most of the genres cliches. The vocal performance itself is also a real highlight of the album, mirroring the group’s new direction with both melodic and aggressive performances being brought to the table.
It’s not an album without its flaws and indeed some of the urgency present on opener ‘Overreacting’ doesn't make its way through to the albums latter tracks, with songs such as ‘Never Say It’ and ‘Take Everything’ not leaving as much in the way of a lasting impact on the listener. Ultimately though ‘When We Were’ is both a musically and lyrically stronger and better put together album that plays to the bands strengths. The result is one of this summer's most must have albums both for pop-punk and post-hardcore fans alike.