Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Young Rochelles - Kicked to the Curb

As someone who has liked pop-punk for a very long time, I tend to be picky about the bands I get into but also very open to embracing new favorites if they strike my fancy. I liked The Young Rochelles' first album well enough, but it was drummer/singer Ricky's 2021 solo album So Far So Good that made me a true believer. I was hoping The Young Rochelles' second album Kicked to the Curb would have a similar appeal: building off the classic '90s pop-punk sound yet pushing a little more towards the pop side of the tracks. I must say that I have not been disappointed. Ricky, Rookie, and Rocky put a lot of work into this release, and they have knocked it out of the park like Pete Alonso jumping on a hanging curve. Kicked to the Curb is A+ pop-punk by the book, fulfilling the band's quest to top their previous releases with "bigger vocals, more powerful lyrics, and killer hooks." 

As these songs were being written, Ricky Rochelle was experiencing the downs and ups of life and love, and what results are songs reflecting a rollercoaster of emotions. Rocky's contributions fit in so well that you might not even have noticed there were two primary songwriters. Style-wise, all the obvious influences are palpable. But after ten years as a band, The Young Rochelles have found a way to put their own signature on the tried-and-true pop-punk sound. Kicked to the Curb really leans into the pop side of the genre — with smooth harmonies, hooky choruses, and Ricky's melodic vocals standing out in a big way. Perhaps my favorite thing about the album is that Ricky really wears his heart on his sleeve as a vocalist. The band isn't just turning out songs to satisfy some pop-punk checklist (which we know some bands do — ha!). This is powerful real-life stuff, starting with "Chameleon," where Ricky acknowledges that embracing change is the first step in getting yourself into a better place in life. In a somewhat similar vein, "Today is a Beautiful Day" puts an optimistic twist on the typical breakup song — reflecting on lost love as an opportunity to gain something far better. Who won't be able to relate to "Used To Sleep"? "Breezy" is instantly one of the best pop-punk songs ever written. This is a song deeply personal to Ricky Rochelle, yet it gives me chills because I recognize the feelings it articulates. If your tastes lean more to the cynical side, "Fractured Fairy Tale" is a truth bomb of epic proportions. It takes some balls in the pop-punk world to attempt a song called "You Broke My Fucking Heart," but The Young Rochelles manage to pull it off. 

Out now on Sounds Rad!, Kicked to the Curb is a pop-punk album for people who love pop-punk. If you love this type of music, you won't hear any band execute it with more skill, energy, or heart. And if you don't love this type of music, there's no way in the world you've read this far. Once or twice a year, a band reminds me why I still love pop-punk. This is one of those times. It's not quite fair to classify The Young Rochelles as late bloomers, but they seem to be just hitting their peak a decade into their existence. King Ralph has declared Kicked to the Curb the pop-punk album of the year. And even with a killer Jagger Holly double record floating out there, all I can say is that of course he's right!

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