Worriers - Survival Pop (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Survival Pop (2017)


It's not often a record comes along that will change your life. Luckily for me, I've been able to experience so many that do. Calling Worriers' Survival Pop just that would actually be quite an understatement. 

In fact, this album outshines what's been a really great year for indie/punk/power-pop/emo as far as I'm concerned and digs into each of the genres I mentioned to produce a catchy mash-up that puts the band right up there alongside label mates like Jeff Rosenstock and The Smith Street Band.

I've always known what singer/songwriter Lauren Denitzio was capable of when I heard Worriers' earlier material and even what trailed back to The Measure [SA]. And I'll be the first to say I didn't follow up much or really keep an eye and an ear on what Worriers were doing over the last couple years. I mean, I dug Imaginary Life and Cruel Optimist a lot but I'm still trying to figure out why Worriers just kept slipping off my radar. Well, I couldn't ask for a better statement of intent (and a loud emphatic reminder!!!) with Survival Pop. It's no easy task but it manages to sit right up there and even surpass contemporary peers like Hop Along, Cayetana and Laura Stevenson. Heck, the lyrical content even rolls off as hard-hitting as RVIVR with Denitzio opening up on personal politics (queer identity, gender issues, homophobia, losing friends to drugs and suicide) and of course, the politics fucking over the world at present.

From punchy singalong jams like "Not Your Type" to the sharp turns and slightly more aggressive tracks like "Gaslighter", you can tell what's Worriers' mission. The latter especially resonates as it plays on the mind games and emotional abuse significant others (and people in general) inflict on each other. In short, they're infectious peeks into the abyss of a broken humankind. With that said, I love how balanced the album is, quickly moving from slow-tempo (as per "Glutton (Reprise)") to mid-paced bangers to feisty bursts of punk (as with "Best Fear / Worst Fantasy"). In the process, Denitizio doesn't just speak on society but focuses on self-introspection, with just as much criticism.

"Future Me" in particular addresses our perspectives on the various phases in our lives, particularly our journey to the undiscovered, while still running away with a sense of indie-pop urgency. These songs make you feel indecisive and unsettled, which more or less shows that you're alive. And that's basically Survival Pop in a nutshell -- encouraging us to live and not just survive. It's saccharine punk at its finest, melodically disarming at almost every juncture and believe it or not, willing us on (even you mainstream lovers) to seize the day.

The closing track "Open Heart" ends proceedings with a pounding percussive beat that lasts throughout like pulses united, sadly reminding me that this album... just like life... is way too fucking short. Sink your teeth into this as soon as you can because, well, why wait to dive into such a feel-good record about some of life's shittiest things? Quantifying them is overrated so let's just assess the quality of ourselves, kick the bad to the curb and focus on doing what's right. That's the kind of message Worriers unravel here -- something dolled up for those who are coming-of-age, something articulately brought across for young adults at a crossroads, and lastly, something melodically designed for anyone looking for an answer on why life screws us over. 

And yeah, at these moments, even I can admit that we can't just say we're living. We have to fight and we have to survive.