Album Review: Teenage Kicks – Spoils of Youth

April 26, 2014
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Teenage Kicks - Spoils of YouthTitle: Spoils of Youth
Artist: Teenage Kicks
Record Label: Rezolute Music
Date: 29 April 2014
In One Word: Hopeful

Toronto’s Teenage Kicks is releasing their new full-length album Spoils of Youth, following their previous EP releases such as 2012’s Be On My Side and 2011’s Rational Anthems. This new release is a swaggering and soulful opus, laden with ten powerful tracks.

Brothers and band mates, Peter and Jeff van Helvoort attribute the themes and mood of this album to a tumultuous year and a half of making it. The result is something more hopeful and honest, giving listeners an album in the hopes of eliciting an emotional response through the music.

Opening track, “Brooklyn Bridge” is the first indicator of this theme. Starting off sounding somber and melancholic, it eventually launches into unbridled and anthemic territory. Peter van Helvoort demonstrates the raw power of emotion in his vocals. It does what an opening track should do – gives the listeners a hook, a glimpse into what the rest of the album has to offer.

The following nine tracks follow suit, particularly “Life, Death & a Little Bit of Self Respect”. An empowering ode to not letting anyone tear you down, Peter van Helvoort croons lyrics like “quit feeling sorry for yourself; don’t let anyone shut your mouth”. The lyrics in each of the tracks provide a glimpse into the process of Teenage Kicks’ last year and a half.

“The finished album is the sum of multiple factors: an unusable record made in West Hollywood, failed relationships, lost members, bad timing/worse luck, and a hard dose of reality that was found in a place where reality does not come easily,” stated on the band’s website, providing background to the central theme of the album.

While the songs and emotions have specific meaning to the van Helvoorts themselves, the lyrics and feel are universal. It’s the kind of record that anyone can personalize and connect with.

It is musically diverse as well, relying on more than heavy power-rock riffs. The song I would consider the ballad of the project, “Stone and Undulation”, switches up the style and provides an ebb and flow. It lurches forward, keeping up stylistically with the rest of the tracks, but remains much slower and solemn.

Overall, Teenage Kicks accomplishes what they set out to do – they made a hopeful and emotionally driven record, while staying true to their roots and style of past releases. The product is an evident maturation in a band that remains cohesive in their style, but knows there’s room to grow and feel the emotions that drive them to continue.

While the album isn’t slated to be released until April 29th, Teenage Kicks have released two tracks on the upcoming album on Bandcamp, “Digging Up Old Bones” and “Houdini”.

© Megan Rach, Music Vice

Internet Link: Teenage Kicks

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