The first thing that is noticeable on Tough Age‘s I Get the Feeling Central is that it is a raucous, fun album. Ranging from scuzz pop to psych-rock to psych-pop to surf-punk, the album is a sheer delight on the ears. It is, for the most part, a buzzsaw of a record, but there are some lighter moments to allow you to catch your breath.
The album blasts off right from the get go with three awesome, high-wired tracks that, if played live consecutively, would leave audiences in a sweat. It kicks off with the infectious, scuzzy “50 Girls 50” before transitioning to the the psychedelic “Snakes & Ladders”, which resonates of Thee Oh Sees. “The Gutter Lemon” follows, a condensed, post-punk-pop frenzy that has a touch of The Ramones.
Things settle down for a few songs, which includes the catchy and melodic “Warm Harm” and the instrumental interlude “Landau, Luckman & Lake” that is completely unexpected. “LLL”, however, with its spot right in the middle of the album, essentially acts as the bridge to the album’s second half. The “b” side kicks off with the jangly surf-pop number “Flotsam”, a surprising song due to the great harmonies and melodic approach.
But just as you think Vancouver quartet has gone soft, “New Orleans Square” shows up. On this track, Tough Age pick up the pace and integrate some post-Industrial noise with post-punk elements. It’s a whirling song that would likely incite a mosh pit to form. “Castigation” and the closer “Walk!”, meanwhile, see the band channel Thee Oh Sees once again. The former is a mid-tempo, easy rocker while the latter blisters with West Coast psychedelia.
The star of the album might just be “Guilt”. At six minutes, Tough Age does a great job at building the song until its fantastic finish. However, the track doesn’t feel too long and one’s attention is transfixed on the rocking bass lines and the shimmering guitars. The song has epic jam potential. The title track, meanwhile, goes in a different direction. It’s a scuzz-pop number that is surprisingly quite melodic and has a cheerful feel, although lyrically it’s not all roses.
Beneath the raucous, infectious, and fun sounds of I Get the Feeling Central, there’s a lot more hidden meaning. The album is an introspective, retrospective, and contemplative album of one’s life. It’s not only about former loves and broken hearts (such as on “50 Girls 50), but the album asks questions such as “What if” and “What was”. “Warm Hair”, for instance, reflects back on a moment in time where an opportunity may have been missed or not taken advantage.
The album also has plenty of pop-culture references – specifically related to comic books. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the press release, this piece wouldn’t mention anything about the subtle nods to animation. At the same time, this shouldn’t be surprising since the band has often used comic book-style photos on its posters and promotional material. Unless you’re a comic book fan, you probably would miss most on the references. Bonus points to those who can get the references (I get none).
Tough Age are Jarret K. Samson (lead vocals, guitar); Penny “Agamemnon” Clark (guitar, vocals); Lauren Smith (bass, vocals); and Chris Martell (drums). Their excellent I Get the Feeling Central is out now via Mint Records. Purchase the album at the label’s store, iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.
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