Review Summary: You Blew It!'s Topshelf Records debut is cathartic party emo at its finest.
2011 was a rough year for emo fans. The successive disbandments of My Heart to Joy, Snowing, and Grown Ups were simply too much to bear, and left many followers of the renowned twinkle daddies (forgive me) sobbing as they clung dearly to their Parrot Flies records with what little hope they had left. Certainly, these three acts made their mark and left some seriously big shoes to fill, but bands like Orlando, FL’s You Blew It! have proven that there is no shortage of nerdy, cat-loving math rockers in the punk scene willing to step up to the plate. With their new Topshelf Records debut, You Blew It! truly show improvement from their first two EPs, and will undoubtedly win over any remaining skeptics of their previous work (if there are any). Through the use of jangly guitar riffs and scatterbrained lyrics, Grow Up, Dude
perfectly encompasses the genre’s quirky charm and rivals Snowing’s I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted
as the best sing-along party emo album to have come out in recent years.
Despite the polished, relaxed delivery of You Blew It!’s previous EP, Grow Up, Dude
takes on a bit more of an unrefined approach. Fuzzier production and a “shoutier” singing delivery on most tracks give the album a different aesthetic than The Past in Present
. While instrumentals still remain technical and interesting, the main focus has been shifted to the vocal department, run by Tanner Jones. Throughout the course of the album he intimately and humorously details countless parties, late-night hangs, and personal interactions. Take “I’m Bill Paxton” for example, in which Jones exclaims, “I’m right where I need to be: Spending sleepless nights at Steven’s and drinking too much coffee.” The lackadaisical, witty nature of the lyrics is perhaps the album’s most endearing aspect, and gives Grow, Up Dude a sense of individuality, which is something that is often lacking in the genre.
“Good for Bond, Bad for You” highlights everything that You Blew It! does well, featuring impressive drumming patterns, winding lead guitar lines, and drunkenly poetic lyrics such as, “Everything that you claim you’re into, you’re nothing to get attached to” - one of the many lines that makes the album so immediately memorable and easy to grasp. Lighthearted confrontation is a recurring lyrical theme that also pops up in the track (and in others as well) when Jones explains, “If you had anywhere else to be besides stealing beer at parties, frankly I’d be surprised.” As if the track was not likeable enough already, a guest vocal appearance by Steven Gray of Dikembe and Wavelets helps to add some variety, solidifying it as the standout track on the album, though the others are not far behind.
Throughout the course of the album there are many more gems to be found, including the all-too-singable “Terry Vs. Tori,” which was previously featured on a Topshelf Records compilation, as well as “The Fifties,” a subdued, drumless intermission with a strictly clean vocal approach. Overall, Grow Up, Dude
is an expansive emo release with a lot of depth to it. Though You Blew It! have not rewritten the book on the genre as we know it, their original songwriting and lyricism is refreshing nonetheless. The album may have its moments of reservation, but it is one that is best played loudly to small, cohesive crowds, and I, for one, will be disappointed if I do not get the chance to scream alongside the Floridian emo rockers in a basement this summer.