by Quentin Singer
The 90s are alive and well, at least in Teenage Wrist’s debut album Chrome Neon Jesus. Hailing from the streets of Los Angeles, Teenage Wrist is a four piece punk-rock band, recently signed to Epitaph records. While punk-rock is probably the most generic and broad genre to label them, the band incorporates all kinds of contemporary rock styles in their debut, ranging from shoegaze, alt-rock, to even 90s grunge. Showing their influences immediately, the band enlisted grammy winning producer/engineer Carlos De La Garza (Jimmy Eat World and Paramore) to record their debut LP. Having a variety of mixed rock styles, the overall vibe of Chrome Neon Jesus is a fun revival, and often original take on 90s era rock.
The album starts off with the title track “Chrome Neon Jesus,” which ultimately opens up into a complete banger. While this is definitely a great track from the album with its very catchy melodies and driving rhythm section, the song feels misplaced as an opener. It gives almost this climatic ending vibe to it, almost as if it should be the closer to the album. This song has some catchy leads, and an especially catchy chorus melody, but it’s not as powerful as the rest of the songs on the album. That being said, “Dweeb,” the album’s second track, is one of the heaviest guitar/bass driven tracks on the project. Starting off with a monstrous drum and bass groove, the song kicks into form as soon as the first screeching guitar hits. Having a rather mellow verse section, the song builds to this effectively catchy, but also heavy chorus. This song is definitely one of my favorites on the album and showcases TW’s balance of heavy guitars and melancholic qualities. Part of this balance is definitely achieved through the production of the record. Carlos De La Garza did an absolutely incredible job capturing this band’s sound and image, especially for their debut album.
One of the albums star tracks, “Stoned, Alone,” is impossible not to talk about when reviewing this album. With one of the catchiest (but also simplest) opening riffs and vocal melodies, the song is easily a standout hit. While it’s clearly a fan favorite over with 1.5 millions Spotify streams, this song is by no means all the album has to offer, and I worry this track overshadows the rest of the album for most listeners, given how pop/catchy it is. It’s clearly a remarkable song, and even talks about heartbreak in an original and unique fashion, by never specifying a direct type of lover or person. From my interpretation, it might not even be about a lover, but the thought of being left alone and unloved. This is a very unique aspect to the song. “Stoned, Alone” is not the centerpiece of this album, but rather one of the many gems I heard throughout my listen.
There’s not a dull song on this record. Most songs follow a similar format and time length, but at no point did I feel a song was misplaced on the album (except for the aforementioned opening tune, which probably should have been the closer). Every song accentuates the 90’s-punk bliss TW are aiming for, and the band manages to do so in a unique and memorable fashion. Two of my absolute favorite tracks on this record are “Black Flamingo” and “Daylight.” Both of these songs have an amalgamation of guitar tones and effects that immediately slap you in the face, but also mold around the vocals and instrumentation pleasingly.
If you enjoy any aspect of 9os rock music, then there’s something you can get out of CNJ. My opinion on the album might be overdoing the admiration, due to my pre-existing love for the 90s, as well as modern punk-rock, but Teenage Wrist has made a surprising debut, just based off their success earnings in the scene right now. The band has earned over 130,000 monthly Spotify listeners since their LP release, and even booked tours with solid acts like Citizen and The World is Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die. While the record doesn’t necessarily break musical or technical barriers, it’s combination of contemporary and old school rock provides an interesting new character, for the already expanding modern rock scene.
Have you listened to Teenage Wrist? Let us know in the comments!