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New York Cool - Music

My Teenage Stride
Ears Like Golden Bats
myteenagestride.com

 

Reviewed by Eric Atienza


It’s incredibly rare in this day and age to find a band that plainly wears its influences on its sleeve but still finds a way to come off as absolutely fresh and fun. Most bands that try end up seeming like a tired rehash of old brilliance or like children trying vainly to fill the shoes of their favorite musical forebears. Brooklyn’s My Teenage Stride is one of the many bands that have attempted to fuse past sounds with present sensibilities and they are, fortunately for those of us listening, one of the few bands to succeed.

The very first notes of lead-off track “Reception” are reminiscent of mid-to-late 80's post punk which perfected the art of turning pure heartbreak and melancholy into pure hook and pop. Frontman Jedidiah Smith’s vocal evokes a deadpan version of Smiths-era Morrissey, and while the strength of this resemblance fades in and out over the course of the album it is always there. As the album progresses Smith injects more conventions of music-past into his work. “That Should Stand For Something” and “To Live and Die in an Airport Lounge” add the straightforward, driving rhythm and energy of New Order to the mix and the arrangements and melodies of the Cure make an appearance on title track “Ears Like Golden Bats”.

With a meandering bass and sparse, light guitars over steady drumming My Teenage Stride also further manages to patch the sounds Smith has harnessed into the current indie-rock archetype of dance-groove detachment. As a result we are left tapping our toes, bobbing our heads and dancing along to some of the most poppy, enjoyable, polished, smart and subtly despondent music since New Wave first crashed onto America’s shores.

Cresting the middle and moving toward the end of the record the building blocks that Smith used to craft his songs begin to blur together. Individual pieces become less and less audible as they give way to a new whole. By the time the album comes to a close with the thick, effects-filled “We’ll Meet at Emily’s” and the bass-drum heavy “Depression Kids” it’s obvious that, while My Teenage Stride began the album from atop the shoulders of giants, the band truly has what it takes to stand tall on its own.

 




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