Review Summary: Teenage Politics is a basic but entertaining album by the still young pop punk band MxPx. While not their best, nor the genre defining album of 1990's pop punk, its still a great listen.
In the wave of 1990's punk bands, one band that sticks out to many is MxPx. Maybe its because of their odd name. Maybe its because they're from the seemingly non-punk town of Bremerton, Washington. Maybe its because the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them is "that Christian band?" Whatever the case is, MxPx, like that of Blink-182, was once a straightforward, fast paced pop punk band that were big in the punk scene until they moved to the major labels and got famous.
Old school MxPx represents 90's punk in general: skateboarding, care free thinking, going to shows, relationship focused songs, ect. With the members only being 18 or 19 on this release, these representations are even more enjoyable knowing that the band members are close to the same age was most of the listeners (preteens to young adults). The music is fast paced, upbeat and is generally not to be taken as an overly complex album. Its MxPx, and with an album entitled Teenage Politics, can you really expect anything beyond expectations?
While their debut Pokinatcha bordered on being hardcore punk with several songs, Teenage Politics is less heavy and more pop punk. Tom Wisniewski replaces Andy Husted on guitar, and this lineup change noticeably changes MxPx's sound in small, but important ways. It is unclear whether his addition changed their style to a less aggressive style or if it was a maturing part, but his entry into the band has led to a constant lineup for about 15 years.
Teenage Politics is, in the simplest terms, a fast paced pop punk album. It is not complexly written at all, and its simplicity just adds to the enjoyment of the catchy record. The album opens with "Sugar Coated Poison Apple", which is nothing more than a catchy, lighthearted pop punk song. The album is filled with nostalgic infused moments everywhere, and for first time listeners, you will feel the mood of the mid 1990's punk scene.
Bassist and vocalist Mike Herrera has a perfect voice for this kind of music. He sounds like the voice of a high school student, and this makes the album enjoyable, yet not annoying. Drummer Yuri Riley drums frantically and the production makes the drums loud enough for the album to maintain a punk feel. Wisniewski plays fast power chords, but throws in some variation to make memorable and fresh sounding riffs. He also provides some good, echoed backup vocals.
When it comes to catchy and memorable songs, this album has plenty. "Teenage Politics" has a memorable riff, accompanied by uplifting vocals and a catchy chorus. "Money Tree", "Something More", "Like sand Thru the Hourglass...So Are the Days of Our Lives" and "Study Humans" are not only catchy, but they almost have a 50's feel to them. not to be confused with a Misfits 1950's style, but it seems these songs, if you take out the punk, could make excellent pop 1950 songs.
The album's lyrics are mostly about relationships with girls and friends. They detail crushes and feelings of insecurity. Despite their notoriety of being a "Christian band", none of the songs are religious based. God and Jesus names do appear in 2 songs, but they're in the same vein of bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise saying them. "Democracy" and "Americanism" are both political songs and they come off kind of out of place. Maybe its because since I know they're open Christians I'm surprised to hear Christians bad mouth the government, but its just a shock. They are still actually really good songs though.
Teenage Politics is a basic but entertaining album by the still young pop punk band MxPx. While not their best, nor the genre defining album of 1990's pop punk, its still a great listen.