Bad boys, the first full-length from Vancouver pop punk band jock tears, comes two years after their debut, sassy attitude, and delivers an even sassier punch. The new record is out on emerging Vancouver label Inky Records and celebrated its release with a show at the SBC supported by goofy Portland punk band, Mean Jeans, on September 29.
The first song of the album, “salt,” opens with a catchy, fuzzed-out guitar riff and Lauren Ray’s animated vocals: “Girls have it trickier than boys / Let’s show them how to make more noise” — a testament to feminist punk and a jab at male privilege that sets the tone for the entire album. Later track “boys with bruises” follows this up when Ray shouts “Misogyny makes me sick,” succinctly hitting home the album’s (and the band’s) attitude with the unapologetic candour one comes to expect from jock tears’ lyrics.
With only one of the album’s 12 tracks breaking the 2 minute mark, each song is a playful and quick jibe at bad boys — even Neil Young. bad boys sports a song that pays witty homage to the rock icon (“Keep on searching / For some cake to score / Not a heart of gold / Like before”) and a song that pokes fun at Kits Beach bros (“Bleach blond hair and he’s ready to go”) back to back, showing the variety of men at their mercy.
The self-titled track slows down the noise for a quick inning with its spoken word intro and jazzy bass line, opening up a wormhole to the ‘60s. Ray’s softly layered soda shop vocals are met with a welcome exchange between clean-toned guitar and punk fuzz in a lyrical portrait of a sensitive jock. A couple tracks later, “handlebars” feels like another nostalgic nod to ‘60s youth culture with kids riding around on bicycle handlebars. The repeated line, “All the world is speeding by / All I want is you to be my guy,” introduces teen romance, while the track still maintains the sense of bitterness and rebellion intrinsic to punk.
All in all, the record plays through how I imagine the high school diary of a cheerleader’s punk alter ego would read. bad boys is fed-up but upbeat, providing the “sweet & mean and everything inbetween” mix that the band promises.