By Carly Preston, Contributor
[Run For Cover; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Big Joyous Celebration,” “Neighborhood Drug Dealer”
It’s been five years since Sam Ray released his first collaboration with Eric Livingston and Caroline White, under the name Teen Suicide. Bad Vibes Forever was a depressed lo-fi punk nightmare. It’s teen angst at its best, considering the group’s members were not even 18 at the time of its release. Its cross over mix of loud rock and experimental coupled with lyrics heavily influenced by mental illness has gained Teen Suicide a committed fan base, a fan base that could hardly wait for a second album after 4 years without a single new release from the band.
It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot is definitely a big, joyous album. With 26 tracks clocking in at 69 minutes and two new members, John Toohey, and Alec Smike, it’s a confusing triumph — with high points that soar and low points that still are oddly beautiful.
The album’s production includes enchanting acoustic progression, bird noises similar to those in a sleep aid machine, tape manipulation, and what can only be described as an orchestra, all on psychedelic drugs. However, if anything is more thrilling then the actual music, it is the credits on the album. Frankly, it is a who’s-who of DIY music, with members of Porches, Girlpool, Elvis Depressedly, Infinity Crush, Alex G, and Owen Pallett all making appearances. These features and production credits had an evident influence on all aspects of this second studio album.
Songs like “Alex”, “Neighborhood Drug Dealer”, and “If I Don’t See You Before You Leave” shine through as some of the strongest tracks by Teen Suicide to date. However, tracks like “Wild Things Run Free” and “Beauty” fall flat. They show a new side of Teen Suicide, but one sounding like an 808s and Heartbreak punk cover band. The true star on It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot, though, is the title track “Big Joyous Celebration,” a song that sounds straight off of the bands first album. The lyrics recount the narrator’s experience with God and depression. “Depression is a construct / You don’t need proof to know it’s real” is a repeated line beautifully harmonized by a haunting chorus. The entire track will give to anyone who has ever had to deal with the complexities of mental illness.
Overall, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot is the type of album no one ever truly gets, but keeps coming back to anyway. While it may be not be the angsty sad teens fans initially fell in love with, it’s a mature and grown-up sound that perfectly encompasses all this band has released, from I Will Be My Own Hell Because There Is a Devil Inside My Body to Hymns. In fact, each individual song could fit perfectly into an older release. It’s a perfect salute to the name Teen Suicide and all they’ve done for sad punks over the years.