Teen Idols - Full Leather Jacket (Cover Artwork)

Teen Idols

Full Leather Jacket (2000)

Honest Don's

More than a decade before cranked auto-tuning and digital enhancement methods became the standard for modern melodic pop punk music, Nashville's Teen Idols incorporated the new technology into a bizarre blend of futuristic Ramones punk, with constant nods to a romanticized 50's greaser atmosphere. 2000's Full Leather Jacket displayed a further expansion of the band's dynamics following up the hyper fast LP Pucker Up! released just a year before.

The opener, "Midnight Picture Show," delightfully picks up at almost the exact beats-per-minute as "My Lesson," the closer to Pucker Up! While this album has a bit more variation than it's predecessor, it is a nice refresher that the band has fully honed in their identity, complete with vintage Universal Picture references among the quartet's constant three part harmonies.

"Every Day Is Saturday" and "Forever In My Dreams" take the tempo down, exposing the group's vocal hooks more vulnerably. "King Just For a Day" takes it even slower, opening up the pocket for bassist/vocalist Heather Tabor to fit some busy moving bass lines into the intro. This seems to be the theme of the album, as different members of the band are given areas to shine while the speeds of the songs fluctuate.

Most of the fat of the album is reserved for the Teen Idols standard. "The Voice" and "Genuine Whiskey Man" sum at a combined 4 minutes, the break-neck speed of "Band Wagon" and simplicity of "How Long," (also at a combined 4 minutes,) are breaths of fresh air from a band that is trying new things while also honoring exactly what the listener was coming back for.

"Rebel Souls" introduces the band's first stab at taking their 50's greaser image and backdrop into the instrumentation for once, and the result is excellent. It was obvious during the life of this band that it's members were giant fans of the time period, and it is a great moment on the album. This style of writing departure would return occasionally on the band's last release Nothing to Prove in 2003, and with a new singer to boot.

"West End Road" documents the tearing down of a familiar place of residence, which hits home for me as my town currently demolishes and gentrifies entire communities that I have incredible memories of, I have always had a soft spot for it, so as biased as I may approach, it is a great, honest, moment on the record. "Camera Shy" and "I Don't Want Her" have both aged poorly, as taking voyeur photography of a love interest, or shaming another human for being undesirable is offensive in modern days, but they offer some good filler in the completion of the album.

"Coming Down" is a pretty average Teen Idols song, but the slow pace and piano added in post-production are a nice sonic reminder that you are completing a collective thought. The album closer is a standout on the album, as it is a rare moment in the band's discography, (at the moment it was released.) "The Team" was one of the lone songs in the band's catalog where bassist Heather Tabor and guitarist Phillip Hill are granted lead vocals in a true trio rotation with singer Keith Witt.

Pucker Up! fucking rules, but I am so happy the band had enough patience with each other to step out of the box and see what other doors they could open up with their distinct sound. Modern Blink 182 songs may have the same vocal robotics, but Teen Idols just did it differently, slash more intentionally, slash more better.