Sunday, February 24, 2019

Psychotic Youth - 21

Well this blog definitely lived up to its name with the stuff I reviewed this past week! And perhaps that's the way it ought to be. But fear not: I have by no means turned my back on the poppier stuff. And when it comes to poppier stuff, does it get any better than Psychotic Youth? Jörgen and company are still going strong after 34 years, and new album 21 absolutely sounds like vintage Psychotic Youth! For real: this is one of the greatest power pop bands of all-time still operating at the peak of its craft.

After an 18-year gap between the band's classic LP Stereoids and the triumphant comeback The Voice of Summer, we only had to wait two years for 21. And this album is everything you would expect from Psychotic Youth. It's a whole lot of power pop, a little bit of garage, a little bit of punk, and a little bit of surf. The harmonies are to die for, and as always Jörgen absolutely excels at writing about matters of the heart. He will devastate you with his songs about loss, longing, and relationships gone sour - and then turn around and write something like "You're The One" that reminds us of why we bother to endure all of that heartbreak in the first place. I always have to chuckle when people criticize pop-punk or power pop bands for writing love songs and not tackling more "important" topics. Seriously? The quest for love has defined our species and its art for thousands of years. What could be more important than that?! I think we become even more aware of this as we get older, which explains why Jörgen is writing some of his most powerful material in his 50s.

21 is the work of a songwriter and band that are aging like fine wine (I know: a terrible music reviewer cliche, but still undeniably true!). I would honestly put this album up there with anything Psychotic Youth has ever done. It has everything from snappy punky pop ("Nr 1 In My Heart") to Ramones inspired goodness ("Wither Up and Die") to tear-out-your-heart balladry ("If Not For You") to vintage Psychotic Youth wall of guitar power pop ("Dreams"). Jörgen Westman belongs to the masters class of power pop songwriting, and it is a treat to hear him still at the top of his game. Do not miss the CD bonus track cover of Marshall Crenshaw's "Cynical Girl" - a tip of the cap to an obvious influence!



Jorgen Red Westman said...

Thanks for your kind words!

Jorgen Red Westman/Psychotic Youth

Sheilah said...

If Not For You

Best track on the album.