Surely everyone went through a pop-punk stage during their teens, right? It makes sense though. Growing up through late primary school and early high school listening to whatever your parents listened to or whatever was on the communal house radio (maybe I’m showing my age), your early teens were generally the first time you got the chance to experience something as remotely rebellious as punk. For me (and many others in the early-mid 2000’s), this was in the form of Sum 41, New Found Glory and Millencolin. I’m almost certain for teens in 2021 Australia, Teenage Joans will be their first exposure to alternative music and will form the beginning of what could well be lifelong musical habits and the beginning of many garage bands.
Here on their debut EP, Taste of Me, Teenage Joans have put together five tracks of undeniably fun and charismatic guitar hooks, instantly catchy and emphatic choruses as well as always relatable lyrical content. Hot on the heels of their triple j Unearthed High win in 2020, the Adelaide two piece’s EP will go some way in continuing to allow them to force their way into the Aus music landscape and highly likely be the first live band many young kids will go see.
Noting a strong influence from Sophie Hopes of Tired Lion, and with nods towards Dear Seattle, Ruby Fields and Dune Rats, the pairing of Tahlia Borg and Cahli Blakers make songs of high octane energy and relentless quality vibes. Opening track “Ice Cream”, with its opening woos and killer riff sets the EP off on the right foot as the songs tackle the themes of feeling like your best isn’t enough no matter how hard you try. Not overplaying itself, the guitar in the chorus is the key to “Ice Cream” reaching the peak of sing-a-long mountain (as an aside, when this first came out, multiple times I fell for the ice cream truck tone in the pre-chorus as I struggled to focus while working from home; it’s classic stitch up territory in the same vein as rappers putting police sirens in all their songs).
Toning things down ever so slightly with the melodic “Apple Pie”, the song cruises through its opening two minutes as Blakers sings about not wanting to be in a relationship with someone, or being the apple to their pie/ pad to their Thai. Culminating over its closing minute with possibly the best melody of the EP, “Apple Pie” has a real Violent Soho vibe.
“Something About Being Sixteen” is up next as it does its best to provide hope to those who are without hope searching for something a little better at the end of the road. Describing “Something About Being Sixteen” as that track that many teens (and those well into their 20’s) will find solace in as they do their best to grow and get over someone who previously held relative importance in their life, “Something About Being Sixteen” is a perfect mid-point for the EP.
There’s an underlying sense of fun and sincerity throughout Taste of Me that welcomes the listener into the band as a spiritual third member. Blakers and Borg feel like they’re your best mates and you’re absolutely stoked for them as they begin to achieve some success. The relatable nature of “Therapist”, a song about the pressures of someone trying to make you change to better fit a picture of what they think you should look or act like, is another moment on Taste of Me that will evidently be earmarked for live sets for a little while longer.
Closer “Wine”, with the ever-reliable anecdote of comparing people to wine (whether good or bad), is possibly the most complete of tracks on the EP and has probably the most catchy chorus. It’s a strong closer and an even better stand-alone single.
A sign of a good song is being able to enjoy it irrespective of your age or personal music preferences, and on Taste of Me, these songs are in abundance. For Teenage Joans there’s every chance their music will play a pivotal role in shaping the musical tastes of teens everywhere, as they slowly begin to rebel against mum and dad, get angsty and delve into learning guitar, drums and starting their own band.