WRITTEN BY: Benji Taylor
In 1992, famed economist Francis Fukuyama saw history as reaching its full conclusion. In his book The End of History and The Last Man, he asserted that the modern diplomatic landscape had essentially paved the way for the 90s, both in terms of political structure and of cultural significance to be a last decade so to speak. That everything afterwards would only be a regurgitation of earlier tones and motifs. For obvious reasons, Fukuyama may have been a bit overzealous in his claims. For the world did keep changing, and with it, brought one of the most oversaturated and omnipresent eras in recent memory, the age of the party rock anthem. LMFAO rode a wave of neon-colored skinny jeans and deep cut V-necks to cultural ubiquity with their 2011 release Sorry for Party Rocking. The pulsating rhythms, overly raunchy lyrics and nauseatingly saccharine refrains made songs like KC and The Sunshine Gang’s “Celebration” seem like simple country ballads. Eventually though, the world did move on and started to forget about brightly colored lensless glasses and party rock anthems, perhaps because conditions were steadily growing worse across the globe and people felt less like “party rocking”, or perhaps it just got old. Either way, within a few years, “Party Rock Anthem” and songs like it were relegated to embarrassing guilty pleasures. Only seeing play at drunken wedding receptions and vomit inducing school dances.
So why then, all these years later, would a group of local homegrown pop-punk tinged indie bands release a split EP harkening back to that forgotten age? Not to mention planning its release for the tail end (hopefully) of a horribly immiserating pandemic that definitely does not party or rock in any way. It is clearly with a strong sense of humor and deep-rooted irony that Philadelphia natives Twin Beds and Philly Green, along with North Carolinian friends Ol’ Sport, seek to conjure images of shutter shades and vodka-redbull stained clubs here on their latest release We’re Also Sorry for Party Rocking.
The cover art, designed by artist KC Roberge (@mariekc), ties in completely with the EP’s title. It invokes the forgotten millennium aesthetic of commercial absurdist imagery paired with a luridly oversaturated and busy color palette. From one glance, the viewer can instantly envision the t-shirt aisle of a 2012 midwestern target. In every sense of the word, it’s perfect.
The first song on the EP comes from Philly Green and is cleverly titled “placent.com.” The track starts off with a sparse and deliberate instrumentation with lyrics surrounding aimlessness and a general malaise. Eventually, the gently plucked guitar and light atmospheric symbol hits give way to a driving drum line and more energetic vocalizations. The song continues to grow and build with intensity until each lyric oozes with contempt. Seeking to confront some form of complacency, the band screams out “You’re getting locked up, in a cage you built.” Although, about a minute before the songs end, the track hits a reset point. The distorted and harsh guitars die out and everything quiets down. From this silence, a stirring melodic chord progression takes center stage. Sonically, every aspect of guilt, shame, cruelty, or coarseness has essentially evaporated from the track. What’s left is a swirling and buoyant instrumentation, perhaps signaling some form of release for the song’s protagonist. The track ends with a neatly faded reverb and strong sense of closure.
Next, the band Ol’ Sport takes the exact opposite approach on “Snitch” by placing their best foot forward and starting off the track immediately. The songs main melody has an insatiable swaying quality that augurs well over the witty lyrics and somewhat despondent vocal deliveries. In the EP’s first official reference to partying, Ol’ Sport displays an impressive knack for sardonic storytelling and visual imagery. The song paints a picture of unwanted changes and rose-colored pasts, always making sure to drive home each verse with a pummeling and stuttering display of drums and guitar. Around the midpoint, this formula starts to break as the instrumentation grows more erratic and gives way to a gleaming and somewhat anthemic guitar lead. This transitions back into the chorus but now delivered with a greater intensity. All in all, Ol’ Sport uses their tight and concise song-writing ability to deliver an incredibly fun and memorable track.
The last song on the EP comes from Twin Beds and is titled “Tori.” The track pairs well with the band’s emo-revival or pop-punk contemporaries, by kicking off with a subdued guitar and a jovial shout. From here, a cheery melody and heartfelt vocals lead the listener into a track which, is essentially, a loving ode to the connections we can make with others. What serves to set the song apart of its influences through, is the way it playfully juxtaposes its entertaining chord progressions with equally impactful and sincere choruses. Often other bands will attempt these striking tonal shifts but ultimately fall flat. Here Twin Beds seamlessly makes the changes without breaking a sweat. What’s more is the bands impressive ability to build up layers of sound without any element becoming lost in the mix. This can be seen best implemented around the closing of the track with the backing vocals, hand claps and driving instrumentation all being given the proper sonic weight. This serves as a powerful ending to an exceptional song.
All in all, We’re Also Sorry for Party Rocking fails to hold up to the tawdry and commercial appeal of the album from which it bases its name, but in this case, that only works to benefit the contributing artists. With each song having its own unique flavor and identity, Philly Green, Twin Beds and Ol’ Sport continue to refine their artistic pursuits and grow into their own identities. It will be interesting to see where the bands progress from here because given the talent demonstrated on this split EP, it will surely be exciting.
- placent.com by Philly Green
- Snitch by Ol’ Sport
- Tori by Twin Beds