If punk was a means to usurp the status quo then what happens when it becomes what it hates; a carbon copy of each other masquerading as rebellion? We’ve seen it happen countless times. It becomes a sea of sameness, and so when a band is on the cusp of being one of those challenging the norm, it is always rewarding to find that their appeal is far more than passing fancy. Utah punk outfit Problem Daughter found themselves pushing the boundaries on their debut album Fits of Disorganized Boredom. Their songs leaned one way but sounded another. It was pop-punk that gave you short bursts of melody but chopped and changed tempos mid-song. It was in every sense, a rollercoaster ride through punk’s blue-collar leanings, love for melodies and a complete disregard for the rules.
Grow Up Trash, their second studio album, completely obliterates the status quo and throws you even deeper into their well of musical disquiet. The 10 songs found here keep you on your toes, constantly subverting your expectations with tempo changes and different song structures.
The first 50 seconds of opening cut “Pocket Sand” is your precursor to the rest of the album. Part Polar Bear Club, part Flatliners, but all Problem Daughter, the song swells and dips from gruff sounding guitar melancholy to soaring pop punk harmonies, all while keeping its urgency at a high. “Mercury Retrograde” does a little doo-wop before trading it in for melodicore riffs and Hot Water Music. Hand-clap interludes included.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Grow Up Trash is that the album never once concedes its ground. It’s been a while since an album rooted in punk’s straightforwardness has been this subversive within its own makeup. “A Bastard’s Hope” and “Tired About It” are both terrific, and arguably the two best examples of the band’s ability to eschew the redundancies of the same old songwriting while maintaining the genre’s more welcomed familiarities. The single “Modern Stigmata” is one of the few times they keep things a little more direct and is the album’s least unconventional outing. Its Wonder Years-like, windows-down, pop punk is at times a welcome comfort from the angular nature of the rest of the album. It is a short respite from the seesaw of musical emotions.
It’s possible that some will say Problem Daughter love the idea of musical subversion a little TOO much. But if that’s the case, there are hundreds of records out there that’ll give you that pop-punk instant-grat feeling. Problem Daughter