Heyrocco’s debut album Teenage Movie Soundtrack is a well-crafted work of neo-pop-punk. Its nostalgic homage to late 90’s / early 00’s not only pays respect to a defining decade of music but even goes so far as to place the album in the decade’s discography. This album already feels fifteen years old; it’s already a classic.
Grunge riffs in “Virgin” and phaser-twang power chords in “Santa Fe (Stupid Lovesong)” take us back, makes us feel like we’re starting all over, growing up one more time. The album starts with an anthem in “Loser Denial” reaching its thrashing, punk-rock crescendo before diving straight into the meat of the album, each song soaked in radio-friendly melodies and hooks. With vocals reminiscent of Conor Oberst singer Nathan Merli guides us through the high school years of not fitting in, sexual discovery, and teenage love–or whatever that is.
The record is stronger in its musicality than in its lyricism, but for what it is that makes sense. Just recall its title (Teenage Movie Soundtrack) when listening and you’ll begin to understand the angsty, melodramatic lines like, “I’d rather be dead than fit in” or, “Everybody seems on top of something / Well I’m on top of nothing.” Also take into account that these guys aren’t too far removed from high school and things get even clearer.
But it’s these kinds of lyrics that make the album work. There’s an endearing effect and instead of rolling our eyes we nod our heads in agreement.
The chorus in “First Song” (Do you remember what it’s like to be loved? / Cause everybody’s there and I’ve had enough / I never thought alone would be this tough / Or that I would need you) is the axiom of all teenagers out there. Of course we remember. Of course we never thought that the aloneness of our teenage years would ever subside. And the melody line that it follows is the heartsong we were all singing back in the 90’s / 00’s. The song gives us a chance to stew in our angst one more time. And God, does it feel so good.
The groove in “Elsewhere” is reminiscent of an Oberhofer song (especially that little vocal squeal at the end of “I just don’t buy it” before the song really picks up). But the song is its own. It pays respect to influences while taking its own direction, bass lines literally moving our feet, the refrain of Oohs something that lasts in our heads forever.
This record might not be a great work of existentialism, it might not have high philosophical lyrics that delve into complex themes of humanity and it might not have intricate instrumentation that plays with music theory in a way we’ve never heard before, but it does do one thing right: it captures the tone of our teenage years perfectly.
This album isn’t for everyone. But if you grew up in the late 90’s / early 00’s, if you were the punk kid that stayed in your room listening to your music with the volume turned all the way up, if you knew what it meant to be alone in the world, then Teenage Movie Soundtrack is for you. Here’s a new band that just wants to take us back. And sometimes, it’s good to go.