The Pink Spiders - Teenage Graffiti (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Pink Spiders

Teenage Graffiti (2006)


During many long hours spent at work, I often pass the time wandering aimlessly about MySpace, clicking on bands and weird-looking people. A few days ago I found myself wondering what the A.K.A.s were up to and if they'd found a new record label yet. No luck there, but I noticed the Pink Spiders were in their "top friends" and thought it was a good time to check out a band I'd been hearing about for quite a while. The songs I heard on the page were much better than I expected, so when my girlfriend came to pick me up, I asked her if she'd heard the Pink Spiders. To this and my sheer amazement, she opened up the center console of her car and produced Teenage Graffiti, the only CD I've seen her with in the six months we've been dating.

It turns out that, expectedly, the songs showcased online were some of their best material, but the band's infectious power-pop / garage punk combo is no fluke. The majority of the songs on Teenage Graffiti are lighthearted, danceable, and catchy as hell. "Hollywood Fix" sees the band alternate among choppy garage riffs and bouncy rhythm and a powerful, sing-along chorus. Lead singer Matt Friction's lyrics are certainly not poorly assembled, though at times do come off as slightly stilted: "Near the dancing silhouettes Aaron stole the cigarettes / Everybody knew it, but no one had the proof / And as the sun was coming up in a sea of empty cups / White suburban kids were all raising the roof."

"Modern Swinger" takes the band's competence for hooks to an extreme, throwing in a few bars of piano and overdrive guitar for good measure, and even the hackneyed references to cigarettes that appear throughout the album can't hold back the chorus that catches like the flu. A slightly less aggressive yet equally poppy sound rises from "Little Razorblade," which unfortunately spends a little too much time on annoying synths and pointless effects. The pop-punk "Back to the Middle" starts promising with more distortion and a faster rhythm, but the title repeated over and over makes listening all the way through a chore.

The downfall of having a tight, developed sound in only one area is that it makes diversifying the album a challenge. And that's exactly where the Pink Spiders fail. Slower songs like "Hey Jane" and "Pretend That This Is Fiction" strive for the same pop appeal but lack the fun that the more energetic songs pack. "Saturday Night Riot" and the piano-driven "Adalae" offer that hip-shaking rhythm, but the cheesiness of the lyrics and delivery makes it hard not to cringe.

For a band that burst onto the mainstream seemingly out of nowhere, Teenage Graffiti is about what you'd expect from a mainstream pop act: a handful of really good potential singles, and a few duds. When the band is serving their choppy garage punk they seemingly have endless potential and when they stray, they lose it. If the Pink Spiders could figure out how to make a varied, distinct full-length without dipping into boring filler, they very well could be a force in the pop-rock domain.