Review Summary: Two years late to being twenty years late
Remember that three year stretch from late 2012 to late 2015 where every band in the broader emo/post-hardcore community decided they wanted to be Hum? Bands like Basement, Superheaven (RIP) and Balance and Composure (also RIP) drenched their fuzzy riff-centric songs in reverb and dropped the average tempo of their music about 20 BPM in an effort to evoke the emotional nostalgic feeling of a sound twenty years in the rearview. Personally speaking, these songs were pretty damn good; evidently, Teenage Wrist thought the same, as they’ve decided to model their sound on exactly that concept.
Chrome Neon Jesus
is a crunchy slab of airy rock that strikes the same vein the aforementioned bands did, but now that this sonic trend is headed out the door for a second time, something feels a little less special. Vocalist Kamtin Mohager (of The Chain Gang of 1974 fame) is a solid songwriter that knows how to put together a melody, but his drab baritone delivery never really wavers or elevates across the album’s 42 minutes. Songs follow the same verse-chorus structure throughout, with the exception of “Kibo”, a shorter interlude-y track that is less notable for its musical merits than it is for breaking up the record’s monotonous flow.
Teenage Wrist find most of their success when they’re not trying to be pretty, like when “Dweeb” breaks into its driving chorus or when the fat groove of “Rollerblades” anchors the record’s dirtiest guitar tone. It’s still totally aping a ton of other bands, yeah, but it’s way easier to get lost in than four and a half minutes of cleanly strummed whole note chords (“Spit”).
The problem with Chrome Neon Jesus
is that it’s an album that feels derivative of bands that were already derivative to begin with. No, Balance and Composure didn’t invent the fuzz pedal, but they at least sounded like they were into the bands they were stealing from. If you really, really
can’t get enough of the ‘90s grunge worship bands of a few years ago, Chrome Neon Jesus
not only gets the job done, but aims to please. Don’t get it twisted, though; Teenage Wrist are late to the party, and they’re not fooling anyone.