I nearly died one night in the kitchen of Mexican restaurant I was cooking at. When it came time to clean up the floors at the end of my closing shift, I erroneously (read: stupidly) mixed ammonia and bleach in a mop bucket full of steaming hot water. One breath of that potent mixture and I was seeing stars and scrambling for fresh air. I sometimes wonder what that scene would have looked like to the person that found me the next morning if had I dropped right there; me piled over a mop bucket, butt in the air, face first in the floor sink, with my cheese and verde-covered Doc Martens stuck out to the sides like some sort of punk jester. Anyway, on that night, as with most shifts back then, I was probably listening to something that sounded just like this album on the kitchen’s boom box.
Nonage is the first full-length Autistic Youth record in nearly three years, and their third album overall. These Portland suburbanites play a clean, insistent style of pop punk that’s been injected with a bit of garage rock and ‘80s hardcore, and a healthy dose of classic power pop ala The Buzzcocks. Even though it would be a stretch to make any other 98 Mute comparisons, I can't help but think that the lead vocals sound like Pat Ivie. A track like “Always Running” combines a classic rock-sounding chorus with guitar leads that recall early Social Distortion or Adolescents. Meanwhile “Battles Lost” is derivative of the ‘90s Epitaph and Fat Wreck sing-a-long sound. They’re kind of all over the place here, but somehow it works really well.
Despite being drawn to bands with offensive names I am unfamiliar with Autistic Youths’s work previous to this album. The press sheet describes it as being “more refined” than previous outings, so I am assuming there was a time when these guys played more erratic and/or aggressive (as their name would imply) than they are on this record. And while I'd no doubt prefer the less polished stuff, I also happen to really dig this. With its driving melodies, gang vocals and upbeat tempo, Nonage is the kind of punk rock party music that makes partially-jaded old-school dudes like me drag our butts of the couch and start dancing around; air guitar slung low, legs spread, and head bobbing in tune.
7.0 / 10
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