Just Surrender – Phoenix
Record Label: Razor and Tie Entertainment
Release Date: June 22, 2010 (digital outlets)
Recently an AP.net member wondered why Just Surrender are still content to make music for teenagers. Although asked rhetorically and meant to malign, I consider this a question worthy of an answer. Many sociologists believe that teenagers are defined by mental outlook rather than age. A teenager is a person in-flux. They are standing at the proverbial fork in the road. So in that sense, yes, Just Surrender still make music for teenagers. But I think that’s only because, in most ways, Just Surrender’s members can most easily relate with this social class. The band’s strength lies in uncertainty set to pop-punk guitars, a few well-placed screams and plenty of hooks. It’s music that can be enjoyed by people ages 13-33, depending, of course, on one’s current place in the social setting. So good for that person lamenting the band’s seemingly stagnant nature; clearly they have moved on to a point where love and loss no longer intrigue. But to those of us who are still waking up every day in a haze of uncertainty, a record like Phoenix works because it embodies, well, us.
Honestly I don’t want to be one of those guys who tries to break down the nuances of a record about social minutiae. (Full Disclosure: I’m currently reading Chuck Klosterman’s pop culture opus Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. So, there’s that.) And really, what that commenter I mentioned above is really sad about, for some reason, is that Phoenix sounds like a Just Surrender record. But yuck, spending time discussing that would be not only counterintuitive but also stupid. Although Phoenix’s intensity is closer to the band’s debut If These Streets Could Talk, all progression is absolutely negligible. The album’s biggest misstep is the only song that siphons off that undeniable energy for acoustic melodies (“Carried Away”), yet I’m not as pissed off about that song’s complete lack of authenticity because it’s surrounded by the Bayside tribute “Better To Leave” and the non-stop drive of “Jukebox Memoirs.” "Carried Away" is saved solely by context, and that’s a mighty thing to accomplish.
But really it’s all crunching guitars, mostly terrible lyrics and lots and lots and lots of fun. “Through The Night” blends into the nostalgic-sounding “Take Me Home,” which lends some of its electronic energy into “Crazy,” a career-defining song that houses the album’s biggest chorus and most creative bridge. I could've interchanged a few songs from each Just Surrender album there, and at this moment I feel like that's sorta awesome (i.e. consistency). The thing that’s really wonderful about Phoenix is that it can become a beacon to former fans, both diehard and fair-weather alike. Lots of people latched onto If These Streets Could Talk, but only under the pretense that it would be a fun record for maybe a week. Here Just Surrender prove to a very wishy-washy bunch that there’s more to love. Sure, Phoenix might be best served after certain scenarios (lost love, backstabbings, a Michael Bay film), but this music works just as well without lyrical comprehension. It’s hard to predict how many sequels Just Surrender have in them. Their Long Island pop-punk is a style and mentality that doesn’t always allow for longevity. However, with Phoenix and its motivational rockers like “On My Own” and “Stronger Now,” the band has shown their willingness to fight for “teenager music.” And if they never grow up, fine. I’d be happy to never grow up with them.
Recommended If You Like: Taking Back Sunday, Bayside, et al.
I can't agree more with the rating or review, was really disappointed with the record, after one listen only Take Me Home stuck with me and that's the only song i'll keep playing, here's to hoping they progress