Album Review: Junior Battles – “Idle Ages”

Junior Battles is a pop-punk band hailing from Canada. They have two singers (because it’s a big thing to do in punk rock these days) and one of their singers sounds a lot like Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. They’re also really good at what they do.

The band’s debut album, “Idle Ages,” was released on June 28th on Paper + Plastick. It isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s still a lot of fun. Harmonized vocals, catchy choruses… it’s all there. Lyrically the band often touches upon being young and playing shows, but considering how young the band is (based on the lyrics to “Twenty Five” it can be assumed that most members have yet to reach that age), it means that they’re at least singing about stuff they know. “Nostalgic at 23” calls people out on not wanting to let go of memories, when in fact those same people aren’t even old enough to drink, while the penultimate track, “Passing Out,” goes into exploring long-distance relationship territory and the dangers that come along with it. There is also a general theme of being disillusioned with becoming an adult; a feeling that I share on a day-to-day basis as I’m turning 23 in a month and my life hasn’t really come together like my childhood led me to believe it would.

Musically the album is what you would expect of a pop-punk band in the post-American Idiot boom*. A couple of chords wrapped around peppy lead lines, palm muting, gang vocals, consistent rhythm section. Even the occasional, if not required, slow moments (such as the 45 second “Architecture”). I’m not knocking it- it works great for these guys. Anyone who is a fan of their previous EP output will dig this, too.

My only complaint about the album? The aforementioned “Passing Out” is the exact same recording of the song that they used for their split with O Pioneers!!!. Not a major fault with the album and considering not everyone has a copy of that split, it’s good that people will finally be able to hear this wonderful track. At the same time, however, I wish that they had at least recorded a new version of it (something that bands are prone to doing). Again, not a major fault, it’s just the only problem I had with the album.

Since it’s only been out for a limited time, I haven’t really given it as many listens as I hoped to. That said and given my love for (almost) all things pop punk, I’m certain that this album will make my End of the Year list. Oh yeah, and Damien Abraham (aka Pink Eyes) of Fucked Up makes a guest appearance on “Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?” which is also worth mentioning (do kids these days still understand the Sex Pistols reference there?).

*I’m not saying that pop punk bands copy the style of American Idiot, I’m just using its release as a reference point for when “pop punk” stopped meaning “Green Day and blink-182” and began to mean “Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco” (in a mainstream sense).

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