A person isn’t characterized by change itself, but rather the way in which they adapt to it. So too, is the case with Teen Agers. The Orlando, FL quartet has dealt with the whole gamut – new careers, cities, members, writing styles, and devastating loss. It’s this struggle with change and search for catharsis that characterizes Teen Agers’ latest effort, When We Were.
Teen Agers is the collaborative effort of Justin Goldman, Jordan Shroyer, Nick Noble, and Johnathan Duvoisin. A previous iteration of the band saw the release of I Hate It (Anchorless Records, 2013) – a high-energy, melodic, debut LP reminiscent of mainstays like Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike – followed up by a 2015 split with Tampa, FL’s Wolf-Face (Say-10 Records), and two EPs on Smartpunk Records respectively titled Young Gods (2016) and Keystones (2017). Each traced a path of natural and steady creative growth for the band. However, 2017 would see that path drop sheer off the face of the planet.
After replacing drummer and founding member Kyle MacDougall, seeing lead-singer and principal creative member Justin Goldman changing careers and moving to another state – leading to a complete reinvention of the way the band operated – Teen Agers received news of the tragic loss of a family-like figure to the band. Tattered and hopelessly heavy-hearted, the band did the only thing that still felt familiar: create. With the help of newly-enlisted drummer Duvoisin, Teen Agers would convene on a monthly basis to meticulously pore over rough ideas in whirlwind weekend sessions. What would follow is Teen Agers’ most compelling material to date.
At its best, change can be enlightening. At its worst, destructive. When We Were is somehow both. The record documents Teen Agers’ white-knuckle struggle to turn the latter into the former. A band in both organizational and personal turmoil entered the gauntlet in tatters and exited stronger versions of themselves, wearing their scars like badges (for better or for worse). When We Were is both a visceral documentation of Teen Agers’ trudge through Hell and the product of it. They’ve seen the bottom. Teen Agers has felt the brimstone and clawed their way back to solid ground. Adaptation is the true measure of character.
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