Tales From Wyoming
A decade after the release of their second full length, Total, Teenage Bottlerocket pay homage to the release with the cover art of their new album. But that is largely where the similarities between the two end. They are still undeniably a pop punk band with an obvious Ramones inspiration, but this time around the guys take some chances musically. Where Total showcased a raw band in the early stages of their recording career, Tales From Wyoming is a more polished effort that shows maturation. Maturation as in musical growth beyond the formulaic 1-2-3-4 pop punk that they are known for, not lyrically.
On one of the biggest changes in sound, Kody Templeton takes a power pop approach to a love song, while simultaneously still giving a nod to the Ramones. The sentiment in “I Found the One” is sweet as he professes his love, but still manages to keep it a little bit goofy as he sings “You get me all fucked up like I’ve been sniffing glue,” which sounds more like a Masked Intruder song than a traditional Teenage Bottlerocket track. It is insanely catchy and an early standout track. On the other end of the spectrum lies “Dead Saturday,” a pop punk song with a slight metal influence. In the past, there have been recurring themes in their songs, from pop culture (Top Gun in “Maverick”) to heavy metal (“Bigger than Kiss,” “Headbanger”). These are still present here on “They Call Me Steve” (Minecraft) and “Nothing Else Matters (When I’m With You),” a love song with plenty of Metallica references.
It’s not all fun and games though. The end of the album has a darker tone. On TV Set, the guys reflect upon the state of the world as witnessed through the tv news and the internet. Bullshit calls out someone that has pissed them off and I Wanna Die is as bleak as the title suggests. The biggest surprise on the album is the closer “First Time,” which is a melancholy ballad about a broken heart. It is a pretty song with strings that highlight the serious material, a definite departure for the band.
Long-time fans should find enough similarity here to make this a welcome addition to their discography, but newcomers to the band have a worthy starting point. This is their most realized release, serving as a collection of all the things that fans have come to love from the band while adding a few interesting surprises that help stave off stagnation. (Dustin Blumhagen)