Teen Idols - Teen Idols (Cover Artwork)

Teen Idols

Teen Idols (1997)

Honest Don's

After breaking up in 2003, then reforming in 2008, the Teen Idols recently once again announced their disbanding. Despite having held talks with Fat Wreck Chords, guitarist Philip Hill decided it would be better to put the band to rest rather than limp on with a sub-par live show that relied on the band's former glory and back catalogue. I think this decision was the right one and lines up well with the Teen Idols' whole musical approach--the band wrote straightforward, fast-paced pop-punk that burned fast and bright, but always left words and melodies bouncing around in your head afterwards.

My first experience of Teen Idols came when I acquired 2003's The Dysfunctional Shadowman EP, a four-track split with Squirtgun. The first track, "Backstabber," got me hooked with its breakneck speed, high melody and dual male/female vocals, but the other Teen Idols' track on the EP left something to be desired. Fortunately, I needed look no further than the band's 1997 self-titled debut, which hurtles through 14 solidly catchy tracks in under 25 minutes without ever letting up on the speed or quality.

It isn't necessary to single out any track in particular, as there is very little musical or tonal variation throughout the album; there is only one real break from the constant barrage of sound, which comes in the form of a revving engine at the start and end of "Dragstrip." Yet, whilst predictable, the album never becomes monotonous or boring, as roaming basslines and the aforementioned male/female vocals give the songs a degree of depth. The actual lyrics, though, are about as deep as the music is varied, telling simple, happy tales of life and love. Especially memorable choruses can be found in "Come Dance with Me," "Let's Make Noise" and "Porno Shop" ("He's got a job at a porno shop where he mops up for free"). I also appreciate "I'm Not the One" for its unusually honest title, and I want to think the band wrote it after hearing Descendents' "I'm the One" the previous year.

Basically, the album does what it says on the tin, but very well, elevating it beyond the label of "throwaway pop-punk." Teen Idols perfected their brand of Ramones-core here, and without pausing for thought once, the album is all about having a good time, making it a positive, care-free listen. The production is spot-on, being clear and clean without sounding overly polished, and with some great cover art that reminds me of Watchmen thrown in for good measure, you'll be hard-pushed to find a more enjoyable and solid record of this kind.