Teenage Bottlerocket - Warning Device (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Teenage Bottlerocket

Warning Device (2008)

Red Scare

It's early, but I can say with great confidence that Teenage Bottlerocket's Warning Device is the best pop-punk album I've heard this year. Time will tell if it retains the top spot, but for now it encompasses the beginning, middle and end of the list. Wyoming's leather jacket-clad savants return with another burst of memorable pop-punk that's easy to digest and difficult to hate. This is supposed to be fun, and it is. And honestly, who hates fun?

The album's opening one-two punch of "Bottlerocket" and "In the Basement" encapsulate the difference of the band's two vocalists nicely, with Ray's snottier, slightly more abrasive approach dominating the former and Kody's relatively smoother approach carrying the latter (that killer chorus in "Basement" certainly doesn't hurt, either). And when the two dudes collaborate, such as on the super sweet "Gave You My Heart," the results are consistently stellar. For the purists, there's also plenty of token "whoa"s and "oh"s sprinkled throughout.

All the other elements that make great and effective pop-punk are here as well, and in nearly perfect balance. Besides the aforementioned quality lead and backup vocals, the simple solos in songs like "Welcome to the Nuthouse" and "Crawling Back to You" sell the hooks well. The choruses are brain-lodging at every turn. Lyrically, the band doesn't exactly forge into unfamiliar territory, choosing to instead write what they know, which at the risk of pigeonholing myself and everyone who might like this record, is the M.O. for many pop-punk bands and their fans: girls, some even identified by name ("Anna's Song," f.e., with lines like "all I know if loving you's a felony / they'd have to take me into custody"), alienation ("Welcome to the Nuthouse," "Social Life") and general boredom ("Totally Stupid"). The band does a fine job of taking what could be easily perceived to be lyrical fluff and portraying it as sincere and earnest as I'm sure it actually is. Besides, it's all easily identifiable and relatable. It's highly likely most of us have, at one time or another, felt like an outcast, or though we wear girl (or boy, if you prefer) repellent like it's cologne. God knows I have.

All of this is helped along by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore's assistance, and like most of what gets put to tape at the Blasting Room, this record sounds really great.

Warning Device did not surprise me in any way, shape or form, and in no way is that an insult. Teenage Bottlerocket are damn good at what they do and if it ain't broke, then why fix it? This is a solid followup to Total and yet another addition to Red Scare's already awesome catalogue.