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Retirement Party – Barely Literate
Barely Literate - Counter Intuitive Records
Chicago, Illinois indie-punk band Retirement Party has certainly earned their title of “Band to Watch” by music site Stereogum. The band more or less came out of nowhere (for me that is), and has naturally slid in beside the likes of Joyce Manor, Candy Hearts, Kittyhawk, Farewell Continental, and other confident but soft spoken bands out there. Vocalist Avery Springer’s gleefully sarcastic delivery is in a word, charming. Coupled with a balance of sugary sweet chords that aren’t shy to branch into angular territory or flirt with elements of math-rock, their debut debut album, Somewhat Literate, is a uniquely infectious outing.
The album opens with Springer’s snarky, borderline sarcastic deadpan vocals in “That’s How People Die.” She reflects rhetorically on her character as she states, “maybe I should just be a little more kind,” amidst thoughts about childhood sunburns and skin cancer. Outside of the infectious little chorus, the band introduces elements of screeching guitars and distortion during the final bridge. “Passion Fruit Tea” exists with a similar balance of catchy, sugary hooks that wouldn’t be out of place on a Motion City Soundtrack album, balanced by clear and intentionally fuzzed-out riffs sewn with feedback laden chords that ensure the band is never mistaken for bubblegum pop.
“Shoulder It” makes a similar statement in its employment of noodley riffs, while “Grand Am” embraces an organic sense of musicianship and “woah-oh” chorus line, set up by the initial imagery inherent in the line, “I find myself pulling too much at my skin, I will just be young with a face full of wrinkles.” It doesn’t take long to appreciate that Retirement Party has a way with words that really sucks you in, with the pinnacle of snarky sarcasm coming to a head in “Are You My Mother,” which lightheartedly describes an unlikely killer featured in an episode of dateline. Each lyric in Somewhat Literate is carefully crafted, thought provoking, and colloquial coded.
While they’re not reinventing the wheel, Retirement Party has debuted with a charming album that you can’t help but love. Somewhat Literate’s tongue-in-cheek attitude and simple hooky melodies make for an album that stays with you well after the final track runs its course. Infectious without being overbearing, and light hearted while staying down to earth, let’s hope Retirement Party has plenty of gas left in the tank and doesn’t announce an early retirement any time soon.