Review: Teenage Bubblegums – In Limbo

The resigned security of despair

Everyone knows what scattering hesitation feels like, be it for things we now remember with a smile, like waiting outside school for the results of an exam (“with a smile” my ass, I just had one of my worst nightmares dreaming of doing again my fifth year of high school), or be it for serious ones, like a romance left without closure, or the wait in the waiting room of an hospital.

This the limbo, not in a biblical sense but rather in a worldly one, where Teenage Bubblegums took and left us staring at the greenish fog plastering this room without walls, until we turn to ask Ally and friends to bring us back home, just to notice that they left us alone, dealing with our own personal limbo.

Up to this third (and controversial, as it appears) chapter, the Forlì-based trio never meant much to me. Fast punk rock, one-minute-and-something songs that are simple and direct: I never despised the genre, but it would have taken something more than that to really win me over. That something came with In Limbo, just released in vinyl and CD for the notorious Monster Zero. Ten dark tracks, where guitars are the master since the beginning: a gloomy intro that ends with a mocking laughter and opens to the much faster Quit it. Burn follows, with alternating male and female voices that will stick to the end of the record. The opening riff of How I Feel is the best on the album, along with the simple but effective intro of the ninth track, Shame.

In the title track unison vocals ask us: “can you hear me?”:  it’s incommunicability the common theme of the songs, together with a sense of suffocation (you choke me with a plastic bag, to quote Never Again), and the constant attempt to explain what we feel and what’s inside us, without ever being able to really materialize anything. The anger is perceivable in the guitars, but everything is irremediably weighted out by the resigned coldness of the vocals that never really get off the fence. That might be the only weak point of this great album, that, as far as vocals go, sounds a bit flat, especially at the end (as in Shame’s chorus), where I would have liked to hear the voices raise and scratch a bit. Daring more and leaving room for emotion (maybe some screaming from Ally would turn interesting) would have improved this work both by an aesthetic and conceptual standpoint: an angry outburst to try and get out of the swamp of this dark and deaf Limbo.

Anyway, this album passed with flying colors. I had to review it in its digital release, but I’ve already ordered the vinyl, and I recommend it without a doubt to the readers of Radio Punk. I’ve read some reviews that criticize In Limbo for “getting it bad”, consideration that I find irrelevant:  states of mind are many and volatile, and such must be the music that we listen to. It might not be the album that I would bang away with in my car after getting a pay rise, but I don’t to listen to the “I wanna party” sort of songs every day. Be musically omnivorous. We need some biodiversity to counter the sound monotony that today more than ever creeps around the corner.

Nick Northern

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