Review Summary: Comedic catharsis.
If you hadn’t noticed, emo as a genre has spiraled into a period of nonchalance (in a sense) and apathy with their aesthetic/writing. It’s not how emo necessarily used to be, where bands just didn’t care in a negative way and were somewhat nihilistic. Emo bands of the underground in 2017 just don’t care
. Nothing nihilistic or necessarily negative about it, some of these bands just don’t give a *** whatsoever. That’s okay though, in some cases that’s given the genre the refreshing sensibilities it needs to stay interesting after being around for so long. In some cases, that’s not necessarily true, and bands just wind up looking ***ing stupid, but I digress. With a band name called mom jeans and an album cover where they look just stoned out of their mind, we already have a pretty good idea of what the album might entail (spoiler alert; they don’t care).
Now don’t let the name and album cover get through your head that this a comedic effort. Some of these songs are so painfully honest and dreadful that you just kinda feel like you see some of yourself in the lyrics. It’s kinda like this one hat I saw at Target that read “best dad ever” in small print on a soft baseball cap. It appeared funny, but i knew it’s just gonna be worn by 15-23 year olds that have severe emotional issues. May or may not be why I bought it, besides the point though. Certain songs like “Scott Pilgrim vs My GPA” certainly give off this aesthetic with the fairly quirky song title but within the songs lies some of the most triumphant and cathartic vocal harmonies paired with horns that remind me of nothing else i’ve really heard before. Of course, it’s an emo record still and songs like opener “Death Cup” still cater to that audience but, like I previously stated, this is an unequivocal asset for the record . Considering the opening lyrics, coupled with twinkly guitar, state “I think it’s about time that I warned you I might cry in front of you,” this is about emo as it gets lyrically. The mawkish lyrics, however, never undermine the catchiness of the band’s hooks. The chorus for “Death Cup,” for instance, has pretty much been stuck in my head since whenever I first listened and rated it. But, like I said, some of these lyrics feel so honest and cathartic it’s almost painful even for the listener. Sure, it’s cheesy at times, but that generally comes with a lot of emo nowadays anyways.
But the thing that make mom jeans step out from the bunch really is the fact that their cheesiness feels self aware and is in some cases just for ironic comedy. They’re kinda like a kid that would make fun of your shoes when they’re wearing 3-year-old beat up Chuck Taylors and are aware of it. best buds
is like an insult from an incredibly self deprecating person. It’s aware of its influences and tendencies to lean towards some of the genre’s tropes but is overall self aware at heart and really means nothing but good even for how negative it can be in tone. Referring back to opener “Death Cup”, the song title serves as a reference to beer pong, but at the same time (taking context into consideration) it can be used to reference the sudden end of anything (in the case of the song, a relationship) and everything along with the sort of realization that comes with. There’s also a lot of coming to terms with growing up and getting over it in general within the lyrical content of the record. All over best buds
there’s talk of wasting time away and perpetually sleeping alone, which positions vocalist Eric Butler in close proximity to his emo contemporaries. This is where however, the introspective and more-often-than-not clever lyrics come in and save the record from most of its faults.
Of course the record isn’t entirely reliant on its lyrics though. The surprisingly crisp production amplifies the best aspects of the leads and actually audible
bass work, while the drums provide a more than solid scaffold for the rest of the instrumentation to build off of. The cymbals sound a little bit muddled out, but that is probably the only legitimate complaint to be had about the mix and production. The guitars of course feel twinkly, because it is an emo
record, but they don’t feel overdone like they would on say a You Blew It! record. The inclusion of an acoustic guitar evokes a kind of different, more college-indie influenced vibe that definitely adds to the record to an extent. It does give somewhat of a campy pop punk vibe in some places, especially on track “Movember”, but something tells me that they intended for that tone to add a level of ironic comedic value to the track. Plus the song is saved by solid lyricism and a well above average guest performance from Sarah Levy. The lead guitar contributions are definitely one of the primary highlights on this record. Intro riffs to songs like “Girl Scout Cookies” and “Edward 40hands” the latter half of which is played over a dialogue sampled from Bob’s Burgers, which makes it all the much better. So really, as heavily as the lyrics play into making this album as solid as it is, the instrumentation - coupled with the production - lay down a solid, if not even better, foundation for the lyrics as they run through a range of millennial concerns.
To conclude, the record dabbles heavily in comedy, and yet it is riddled with hard, introspective catharsis. There’s catchy vocal lines all over this thing that’ll have you crying in the most passionate drunken singalong imaginable. The guitars provide a melodic and fitting background for the sound they’re attempting, and seem to soar past their contemporaries in that aspect. The drums provide a raw and punk edge to the twinkly guitars/vocals, and give a sense of dynamic to the record that cannot be understated. Part of the main appeal of this record is that these guys don’t really take themselves seriously, and that is certainly present well throughout the record, enacting more rights than it does wrongs. In some cases, it’s still an emo record, but this isn’t inherently a bad thing. This record isn’t the next The Devil And God
and that’s perfectly okay because it doesn't try to be, nor does it have to. The comedic catharsis aspects of this record provide a unique ideology to a genre that desperately yearns for that exact thing. best buds
is everything about modern emo done right in almost every aspect, and then some.
Listen here: https://momjeansca.bandcamp.com/album/best-buds