Is it possible to grow out of punk? I know plenty of people who were once active in the scene that are no longer in it for one reason or another, but did they really grow out of it? Or did their evolving musical tastes just bring them to new things? Whether they intend to or not, Canadian hardcore punk act NEEDS sets forth and answers this question with their self-titled debut record. The answer? No, you don’t grow out of punk. It may grow up with you, sounding completely different than what it originally was when you first heard it in your room as a kid, but if it was ever really a part of you, you’ll never be rid of it.
NEEDS brings this up in the song “We Forgot the Records to Our Record Release Show,” as lead singer Sean Orr screams out, “What am I doing?” before answering himself in a somewhat silly voice that’s found throughout the whole album, “No seriously, what am I doing?” The song continues, “I’m 36 years old! 37 in a couple of months. In a hardcore band! Although it’s probably more like punk.” The bands self-reflecting humor is found throughout the album, but is especially present here. And while the question of staying punk as you grow up is explored in the lyrics, the real answer is in the music: because it kicks ass.
The band combines 80s style hardcore with noise rock and post-hardcore elements to create something truly refreshing. You don’t know what you’re getting with each song, and by the end of it, you’ll probably be left wondering just what that was you heard. Opening track “Rescue Don” gets into a nice groove with its bouncing bass line and post-punk style guitar before the band blows it’s top and goes all out. “The Only Good Condo is a Dead Condo” alternates between psychedelic sections and dissonant whirlwinds of fury that is reminiscent of Reagan Youth’s “It’s A Beautiful Day.” I even heard a little grunge influence in “Walk, Cycle or Take Transit Like Jehu.” This band also likes long and funny song titles, if you couldn’t tell.
NEEDS is filled with well-crafted songs that aren’t afraid to push the envelope in terms of how much the band can pack in sound-wise. Yet, while every song is a new adventure, by the end it still manages to feel a little repetitive. The last 2 or 3 songs never really stuck out to me because I feel like I had already heard everything the album had to offer by then.
NEEDS have come out strong with their debut effort. They’re not afraid to mix up their influences in a way that showcases their talent as musicians and songwriters, and the songs are still teeming with the youthful rage that makes any good punk band great. So instead of growing out of punk, they are growing up with it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still keep one foot in punk rock neverland.