By Matt Hume, October 31 2017 —
Tough Age, a Vancouver duo turned Toronto trio, are an unmissable staple of Canadian garage punk. Their fuzzy, bubblegum and nonchalant sounds have graced the internet since 2013. Their Bandcamp bio states that they make “music for us and for you if you want it.” Despite a ‘whatever’ attitude on the surface, their new opus, Shame, proves beyond a doubt they care about making good music for anyone who wants it.
The album throws you in patch-covered jacket first in its opening track, “Everyday Life.” A jangly, upbeat lick adds slight variation throughout the overarching repetition that keeps it fresh and interesting. About halfway through the track, anthemic vocals chime in for one line of introspection — it’s short, sweet and leaves you wanting more.
“Piquant Frieze” keeps the album going with more upbeat, pop-rock vibes. Almost whimsical effects atop a poppy guitar are juxtaposed with powerfully punky vocals. “Reflected” delivers more head-shaking pop-rock with a catchy chorus you’ll be singing out loud in no time. “Me In Glue” follows in line as a fun punk jam, but with a change-up in vocal duties.
A tonal shift occurs in Shame somewhere between “Unclean” and “Pageantry.” The pace slows and the bubblegum-pop gives way to softer post-punk melodies — like the chillest areas of Wire’s Pink Flag.
The album’s 10-minute long finisher “Shame” starts with a slower pace, like the songs preceding it, but crescendos into a top-notch punky jam. Subtle changes to melody and distant, yelling vocals take you on a sonic adventure worthy of a road-trip montage. It ends with a mix of silence, ambient noises and strange washing effects over plucked electric strings. The ending feels equally unsettling and calmingly positive, like knowing the best in life is yet to come.
Shame is an album you’ll want to share with pals over a cheesy slice and cheap beers. Lyrically, the album tackles personal struggles with “shame,” engaging with your past and becoming a better person — but it’ll never have you feeling down.
Whether it’s blasting on your stereo when friends are home for reading break or delivering a personal party through your earbuds, Shame will keep your foot tapping with a smile on your face.