Review Summary: An infinite supply of high-fives.
I believe it was the revered American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who commented that "youth comes but once in a lifetime." His words come across as perfectly obvious and their message crystal clear, beseeching us to make the most of our younger years before they are but bygones and memories. However, it seems our dear Longfellow has failed to specify exactly what years of one's life are defined as youthful - an omission that Oakland-based Big Kids are taking full advantage of. Just as their name suggests, these California punk-rockers are still living out their adolescence to the fullest, despite their 1980's birth certificates and overt abilities to grow facial hair. With the release of their debut LP Hoop Dreams
, Big Kids show us how to grow older without growing up, doing so with flair, flannels, and (hi) fives aplenty.
To start in a rather blunt manner, Hoop Dreams
is by no means a collection of songs you've never heard before. Hell, scores of artists have written singles and albums about their reluctance to act their age, from the Descendents
and their aptly-titled record "I Don't Want To Grow Up" to the 1992 Tom Waits
song of the same name. Where this LP finds its niche, however, is in the unwavering youthful energy that the band puts into every track. Their tireless instrumentation barely even breaks to sip beer between songs, pounding out eager tracks in rapid succession. Frontman Jason Romero further fuses the euphonious ordeal a la Brian King of Japandroids
, adding tasteful, nostalgic songwriting and a punk-ish vitality to the mix.
"Get Motion!" stands as the record's most anthemic track, a fantastic tribute to the recklessness of youth. "Forget what it feels like to lose a life clocking 45 hours a week, in hell just to eat and sleep, repeat. I wanna get back to that place where the only thing that mattered was moving!
" The song is a perfect reminder of Longfellow's words, urging us to live the life we love rather than the one we feel confined to. Most of Hoop Dreams
comes off in a similar fashion, from songs reflecting on the teenage years of their parents to typical but fun musings about endless parties and good times. However, everything the record stands for truly comes together on "3,000 Hi-Fives", the album's undisputed high point. The track builds and builds on its own youthful effervescence, culminating in its choral conclusion of "3,000 miles from home, 3,000 hi-fives to go!
" Though the track marks the end of the album, the party lives on.
Sure, Big Kids don't exactly provide their listeners with the most musically and lyrically ingenious work of the decade… but who's really asking them to? Whenever these three punks decide to head back home to sunny California, they'll do so with enough new memories, friends and smiles last a lifetime, a fact that should inspire the rest of us that much more to make the most out of the years we've got. So if you're strapped for reasons to party, feeling a bit too old, or just aren't all that stoked on life, give Hoop Dreams
a spin. What have you got to lose, aside from the best years of your life?