Adolescents – Adolescents

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Release Date: April 1981

Photo: LA Times

Adolescents self-titled debut album is a veritable scene classic – a riveting, upbeat, melodic hardcore punk masterpiece from the SoCal hardcore scene of the early-’80’s.

It’s difficult to put into words what makes this album so great. In terms of verbiage, it doesn’t look so unique on paper – fast hi-hat and ride cymbal hits, dual-harmonized guitar harmonies, both trademarks of that OC hardcore sound; fast melodic hardcore music mostly consisting of distorted power chords with a vocal style somewhere between carrying a melody and yelling… a genre such as hardcore punk, which is often quite straight-forward, does that to a music nerd. How exactly can something that’s made of the same elements as some other, far inferior, album be simply amazing?

It’s difficult to choose highlights for this album, because it is simply chock full of them. It’s actually easier to say maybe there are a couple tracks that are just a cut below the rest, these being “Welcome to Reality” and “Losing Battle”, though these were both technically not on the original release, and they’re still quite strong songs. The album flows perfectly from track-to-track, sticking mostly to high-energy melodic hardcore, while sometimes bumping up the energy and impact, on tracks such as “Word Attack”.

The album is broken up by two major highlights, however. The 5-and-a-half-minute “Kids of the Black Hole”, which slows things down for a bit to give the listener some breathing room. Then two tracks later the undeniable album highlight “Amoeba”, which is possibly one of the greatest songs of all time. The unmistakeable vocal harmonies of the chorus abruptly kick off the song with such power and top-notch melodic sensibility, there’s a moment you forget you’re listening to a hardcore record.

If I absolutely had to choose another couple highlights, “Who is Who” and “Rip it Up” are other top contenders. “Who is Who” for its melodic sensibilities and “Rip it Up” for its rhythmic subtleties that really gives the album a needed change of pace for a little bit, and is especially well-placed after “Word Attack”, one of the more aggressive tracks on the album. The opening to the track is just so tight as well – that yell of “rip it up!” is highly memorable.

This album is full of catchy songs, nearly an ear worm on every track. This is one of the few albums I’ve reviewed where I remember songs simply from reading their titles. These songs all grab your attention and don’t let go. It was highly influential to the punk music that came later in the ’90’s and is an undisputed masterpiece in pretty much any context in which you look at it.

Highlights: “Amoeba”, “Kids of the Black Hole”
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
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