Review Summary: Acoustic folk-punk with a DIY ethic, classic for some, bound to be hated by others.
What an odd name that is, Spoonboy; where did that come from?
It doesn’t matter, really, straight from Plan-It-X records comes an album that’s under-produced, musically straight-forward, and vocally dreadful; however, on the other side of the sun, this album is brilliant.
You know Plan-It-X, right? Records for cheap - think early Against Me!, Defiance, Ohio, and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb. Although, this record sounds nothing like any of those, but is clearly influenced by that DIY ethic.
Spoonboy bashes television (“TV told me, lose my virginity, hop to the beat boy, you’re almost sixteen, take with you always a flare for the dramatic, don’t kiss boys it makes you a faggot”), critics of younger generations (“You may well put me in prison but you’ll never touch my heart.”), and society in general (“Your laws mean *** to me, they’re just arbitrary guidelines of absolute missed ideology”). The best part is, though, that this never gets preachy, maybe due to the albums extremely short play time; although, at around 25 minutes, it’s no shorter than the average NOFX album and those seem to hold more than their fair share of preaching.
Maybe it’s that Spoonboy never takes himself out of the equation, always a player in the tragic comedy:
Is a city on the
middle eastern side of
A landmass on this planet
That I'm not too proud of
but it's a landmass that I live on
and Philadelphia's smoggy skyline
lies above a few good humans
Who are not impressed.”
So he’s unhappy, yes; but he also still lives here. Not proud of the smoggy skylines, but still a contributor. The stand-out track from this record has to be the brilliantly crafted “My Generation,” in which Spoonboy offers us a bit of hope (“We still know we believe when it comes pouring out our hearts”) and, refreshingly a bit of irony (“They say that kids my age think they’re invincible and that seems foolish but I still know I’ll never die”).
The voice, though, oh lord that voice. This record is not for everybody, it’s catchy as all-get out but without an open mind, most will turn it off in the first few minutes; I urge you, though, stick with it, it’s a grower. Spoonboy plays the role of the teenager who just wants to do something right, a contrast to Holden Caulfield, playing to the same demographic with a different approach. Where Holden is angsty and sick of the “phonies,” Spoonboy is optimistic and heartfelt – trying to scrape through by doing not only what’s right but also what may make others happy, while still staying true to himself.
This record is great, but not because of the instrumentation (which is average at best, although the jumpy, spastic guitar parts do fit wonderfully) and not because of the vocals – because this record represents for teenagers today everything that Holden Caulfield represented 50 years ago (and to a great extent today as well), a champion of our generation, waving the flag of teenage misunderstanding, awkwardness, and the desire to fit in, while still forming the right identity. This record is not for everyone, but those that it speaks to will treasure it for years.