|The Pink Spiders
by Sara Huguenard
Everyone who is so sick of hearing a new pop-punk band that sounds exactly like every other pop-punk band that has come out for the last... like... twelve years, raise your hand. I picked up Teenage Graffiti on a whim, having remembered something that a local DJ played months back that I was fairly impressed with. When I popped it into the computer I had no real expectations… and then up came the taboo label on my iTunes… "pop."
This album almost didn’t make it past the first two verses of song one. But not because they sounded like you-know-who and everyone else who ripped them off. It’s just that - if I don’t like the singer, I have a tough time hearing the music, and this guy was straight out of every '70s metal band I ever hated. I was just about to hit the eject button, when the chorus kicked in and I stopped. It was totally hook-driven and catchy, and it was at that change that the ghost of Rob Halford left singer Matt Friction’s body and I was able to focus again. So I pressed on, and I ended up really liking what I heard.
Teenage Graffiti is the Pink Spiders’ sophomore debut, but their first on a major. A trip to their website tells a story of musical and pop-cultural influences that range from the '50s on forward that can be heard throughout the album, a fact that I am sure has made their parents quite proud.
Their music – from vocals and down through every instrument - is rough, raucous, but never polished and hardly apologetic. And it is fun - a total party album. The album opens, ripping through three '70s/'90s punk, and yes, pop-punk inspired tunes before settling into an exploration of what they could actually do with their musical backgrounds. The result is a hot combination that integrates the pop/rock harmonies of the '50s and '60s into the mix, with the 1950s pop-inspired “Still Three Shy” being what I might consider the only throw out. While there aren’t too many '80s influences musically, their bios all reference favorite movies from that era, indicating that the lyrics for “Hey Jane” could have been inspired by one of the many drug-scene-influenced motion pictures of the time.
The pairing of the Spiders with '70s rock icon Ric Ocasek scores yet another coup for the band. Who could have asked for anyone better to know exactly what to do with the variety contained within this band’s music? I think he may have also provided some fashion influence, but don’t judge the book by its cover.
One of the things I love so much about music is the exploration… finding that gem in all of the sure-sell formula stuff that is released these days. This album possesses that “sparkle,” posing a serious threat to all of those boys out there making their fortunes by flogging that same old dead formula.