Teenage Wrist - Chrome Neon Jesus (Cover Artwork)

Teenage Wrist

Chrome Neon Jesus (2018)

Epitaph


I heard about Teenage Wrist because, since Epitaph signed them, they haven’t shut up about them. Epitaph’s Twitter feed has been filled for months with copious praise for this band and their debut full length, Chrome Neon Jesus. But if you’re looking for the signature Epitaph sound on this record (which hasn’t really existed since around Punk-o-Rama 8 anyway) you’re going to be completely surprised. Teenage Wrist is a full on throwback to mid-90’s post grunge. It’s a trend I’ve been excited to see gaining momentum lately of 90’s alt-rock throwback bands, with Charly Bliss covering the Weezer-esque fuzzy pop of the 90’s, and Jr. Juggernaut taking on the jangly post-grunge pop of bands like the Gin Blossoms. But Teenage Wrist wade into the very dark and murky waters that are the heart of post-grunge. In Chrome Neon Jesus, I hear Live, Our Lady Peace, early Fuel, very early Nada Surf, Seven Mary Three, 90’s era Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Tonic, Sponge, even a little Third Eye Blind, if Third Eye Blind was a much darker band.

The opening title track hits us with the ironically cheery singing of the title that’s so over-the-top it almost comes across as Cobain-esque. The song then launches into that dark version of Third Eye Blind I talked about earlier, mimicking Stephan Jenkins’s vocal style almost to a T. “Stoned, Alone” is the epitome of 90’s alternative rock nihilism. Drugs in 90’s music were almost never a source of joy, rather just something used in an unsuccessful attempt to do away with the boredom of life, and as you can tell from the title, “Stoned, Alone” continues that tradition. If you wanted any more proof that this intended to be a 90’s throwback, there’s an actual song called “Rollerblades.” “Spit” is where that 90’s era Cure influence comes to fruition, as simple, clean chords, a strong bassline, and a little bit of reverb on the vocals give birth to a surprisingly bleak song, that descends into a solid 30 seconds of radio static.

If Chrome Neon Jesus can get a little self-absorbed at times, I think it can be forgiven because that’s the nature of the music they’re imitating. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some parody intended on this record, because at times it becomes almost too dark and nihilistic to be taken seriously. But, then, I always thought that there is (or should be, anyway) a thin line between tribute and parody. And if that’s what they were going for on Chrome Neon Jesus, then mission accomplished!