Review Summary: Idle ages, don't ever disappear.
Growing up isn't really that much of an unstoppable, angst-inducing process. Of course, your life is slowly drifting into a whole new direction, turning your idle high school ego into a slammed student (okay, not that much of a change), just to end up as an bespectacled office worker with a burden of a mortgage and a trimmed little garden. Sure there are increasing responsibilities, mostly money-related, but you've dealt with problems and teasers before so it absolutely is off the cards. The other, maybe even more important side of this growing-up thingy is the inner desire not to become as fussy and lame as your parents. It maybe is inevitable at some point, though, but as long as you're retaining your youthfulness in some way you can oppose the constraints of adulthood, even if that means to get drunk in the morning and playing Nightcrawlers in your early 30s. In that way, nostalgia is never an expedient into your lost adolescence. It's just the memory of the boozy boys night out of last Friday, and a memory always worth a good (pop-song) song.
With Idle Ages
, the dudes of Junior Battles took a shot at this, creating an album that faces adulthood and other things that suck, peppered with disillusion and nostalgic feelings. Neither is the tone overly stupid or depressingly dark, it's just appears as deeply honest and perfectly comprehensible in a way, hitting home with the charm and abandon of some guys out of Ontario, Canada. Already having proven that they're capable of playing driving, catchy pop-punk anthems on their self-titled, the four-piece stepped up their game on their full-length debut. The music is a lot more explorative and sophisticated, giving their self-proclaimed influences like Jawbreaker, Superchunk and Jesus Lizard some discernible space in their writings. Where "Basement" was a luscious tune with one hell of a hook, the melodies on Idle Ages
are widely spread from different angles, weaving anthemic refrains that are both the songs focus and connecting elements that complete the song as a whole. That is, songs like "Twenty Five", "Birthdayparties vs. Punkroutine" and "Living in the Future of Feelings / No Plan" peak in sing-along choruses that are immediately gripping while still maintaining the songs timbre. This leaves some room for greater song development and the exhaustion of musical ideas. "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" is ended by a hymnal saxophone hovering over trusty chords whereas closer "Radio" evolves from light distorted guitar strums and shy mumbling into loud and confident gang shouts backed by joyful guitars and boisterous drums. Even the typical acoustic number is embedded in something bigger. "Architecture" is a restrained 47 seconds shorty that serves as a prelude to the main song "Living in the Future of Feelings / No Plan", both being disconnected by the more mellow and moody interlude track that is "With Honour".
It's not just about hooks and advanced chord progressions, though. Every second on the record fulfills its purpose in creating songs that will leave you in a good mood, with new and old thoughts about life, friends and splendid memories. Memories that can be pictured just by hearing one of the countless one liners Junior Battles emphasizes, from the reliantly "we'll still have ourselves/ when we don't own anything else"
to the insightful "you’re always high, and I’m always drunk/ we think we’re justified by saying we’re still young"
. The lyrics address you and your friends, the ups and lows and everything in between. You can not ever be seventeen, and eventually you can't stop growing up. But don't forget the idle ages, don't let them disappear.