Monday, August 15, 2005
Adolescents - O.C. Confidential
It's out of "...The Black Hole" and into the gray as middle-aged punk Adolescents have released their first album of new material in almost two decades called O.C. Confidential. That's a savvy move. It reminds me of those days years ago when the Pickwick record label would try to bamboozle the consumer by advertising an album full of hits and it wouldn't be until you got home that you realized the hits were not done by the original artists. Not that I'm putting the Adolescents down. I think it's very smart of them to slap those initials O.C. on the album. Maybe some bubblegum popping adolescent fan of The O.C. will think the disc has something to do with the television show. It's a reverse Pickwick maneuver that the Adolescents have every right to exploit since they are one of the original Orange County punk rock bands.
Their self-titled debut album (often referred to as the blue album) exploded from stereo speakers back in 1981 featuring classics like "Kids Of The Black Hole", "I Hate Children", and "Amoeba". They released a couple more great records in the Eighties even though they always seemed to be breaking up. So now we get the pleasure of new material from punks named the Adolescents who are well beyond that age group. It could have been comical. It could have been a disaster. It's okay to still be pissed off past 40, but there's a big difference in teenagers flipping off authority and those who are old enough to be those kids parents. Do we really want the Adolescents coming off just like cool uncles?
We need the fire of their youth combined with the wisdom of their age. They recognize this too. "Pointless Teenage Anthem" addresses the expectations of the fans that still only want to slam with music that is highly slammable. The opening two songs, "Hawks And Doves" and "Lockdown America" display vitriol without sounding childish while the music is standard one foot in the gutter rock and roll that may be just this side of formulaic, but formula's aren't always bad. "Where The Children Play" is either a paean to childhood innocence, "a world of sunshine each and every day", or sort of creepy depending on how cynical you want to be.
"Death On Friday" is one of the catchiest songs I've heard in awhile with death in the title. "Guns Of September" makes me think of The Clash even though the song doesn't sound that much like them. "California Son" is so poppy it almost made me cringe. The title rock also rocks mightily. The rest of the album is about as fleeting as a black eye lasts received from a mosh pit. It was fun but it all sounded about the same.
The Adolescents can still crank out some decent tunes even after becoming grown up and respectable. They were even on NPR the other day. Its interesting watching as punk rock enters what would be termed its mid-life if we are just judging it by years. A century from now and this era of punk might be seen as mere infancy. Come to think of it, cool uncles make infancy a lot of fun. O.C. Confidential is two thirds great. Grab a beer out of the fridge during the parts that are just okay.
Posted by Wally Bangs