Musical growth is for wankers. Once you know your sound, you own it. Which is what I could say about Teenage Bottlerocket’s latest homage to the Ramones and Screeching Weasel, They Came From the Shadows. Fans get 14 more delectable pop punk tunes bashed out rapid fire. Zero growth. Palate swap the album cover and change the text, and it looks the same as Warning Device. Or Total. Or Another Way. And while claiming a band basically remade a successful record is usually a criticism, it’s perhaps one of the best compliments I could pay TBR. This
The topics covered are familiar. Opener “Skate or Die” is yet another awesome skateboard anthem. A good chunk of the record is concerned with falling out with people, from break-ups (“Without You,” “Be With You”) and shitty friends (“The Jerk,” “Do What?”) to society in general (“Not OK,” “Call in Sick,” “Don’t Want to Go”). Body issues crop up (“Fatso Goes Nutzoid”), but the record ends on a happy note, the fast-paced love song “Todayo.” If Warning Device’s self-aware and sparse “She’s Not the One” wasn’t enough indication that TBR understands pop punk, “Todayo” repeats it for stragglers. In pop punk land, it ain’t “Today,” it’s “Todayo.” Extra “O”s are the cornerstone of your diet.
While the whole record is catchy and fast, Shadows shows a few ever so slight signs of wear and tear on the band’s formula. “Bigger Than Kiss,” a Kiss diss track (Say it five times fast! It’s fun!), isn’t particularly funny, but it’s still catchy. And at 14 tracks, repetition is bound to set in. How much someone likes TBR pretty much depends on his or her feelings towards pop punk in general. Do you love Rocket to Russia? Then slam this in your CD player. Oddly enough, while the band pledges allegiance to Kerry King on “Bigger Than Kiss,” I don’t see too many Slayer fans riding this rocket.
But that’s kind of beside the point. TBR is here to get all Boogadaboogadaboogada! deep inside your Subterranean Jungle, if you catch my meaning, and that’s exactly what they do. Shadows is yet another solid release from a band that, so far, has proven incapable of failing. Heck, the title track is about being attacked by monsters (Zombies? Vampires?), and not in a stupid Misfits way. Less than two years after Warning Device, TBR has already dropped another super fun blast of pop punk righteousness.