'Peter Pan Complex'
This album is part of a series of events making me feel very positive about modern screamo. The first is last year's releases from well-established members of bands (...Who Calls So Loud, with members of Funeral Diner and Portraits of Past) and well-established bands themselves (Sinaloa), plus Loma Prieta's new take on Honeywell-style hardcore emo in Lost City. Age Sixteen's debut may not be quite up there with some of those former releases, but it fits into an exciting pattern. The excellent blog Stokingtheroots, which already covers a lot of current hardcore bands, has a brief but detailed review of the album here, but I think there are a couple more strands I can add.
First of all, there is a reasonably obvious La Quiete influence on this band - it's that kind of chaotic yet deeply melodic sound which defines European screamo for me in contrast to the more technical style of many US bands of recent years. Yet while La Quiete's most recent output - they haven't released a full album since 2004's La Fine non é La Fine, but have had two self-titled 7"s in 2006 and 2008 - has developed into a purer form, Age Sixteen is still distinctly a punk band. The album is only slightly over 20 minutes long, and mixed with the melody is a good deal of abrasive, old-school hardcore emo moments. Like Loma Prieta, Age Sixteen has managed to reinvigorate the earlier 90s styles of screamo in a contemporary sound.
Secondly, much has been written elsewhere about the other 90s emo revival of Algernon Cadwallader. I think they're pretty cool, although I don't listen to much of them, just as I don't listen to Cap'n Jazz/American Football in the first place. Great stuff, but not my style. What I do like about some of the Algernon Cadwallader songs, however, is how flawlessly shambolic, pained, and anxious they become that they move from the state of energetic, punky indie rock to somewhere very close to the chaos of screamo. Age Sixteen, with their La Quiete-ish melodies and harmonies, approach the process from the other side but with same endearingly tender result. The jaunty opening to 'Empty Nest' I think typifies this momentary glimpse into quite a different style, naturally woven into the general sound of the song and album.
So there are my reactions to this album. It's not solely about this release, which is as much a promise of further good things from a new band and, (as the Stokingtheroots review points out) a representation of a terrific live sound, as it is an excellent release in itself, but also it is symbolic of some new sounds coming through. Open Up Finders, Please is uncompromising screamo, nevertheless with deeply melodic and even poppy touches. Age Sixteen's creative adolescence straddles the old and the new of screamo and other related genres, resulting in a suprisingly mature and contemporary sound.