Strife can manifest itself in many ways, but how you react to strife is ultimately what counts. Toronto’s Teenage Kicks have endured countless conflicts and transformed their own strife into both a desire to continue, and a drive to manifest a stronger version of themselves. That desire was the mindset necessary to create their new record entitled Spoils of Youth. The finished album is the sum of multiple factors: an unusable record made in West Hollywood, failed relationships, lost members, bad timing/worse luck, and a hard dose of reality that was found in a place where reality does not come easily.
Evidently, the sum has been greater than its constituent parts as Peter van Helvoort’s gift as a songwriter and producer overshadows all the discord the band dealt with over the past year and a half. Peter’s history of recording the band’s own free community-based music service, the Singles Club, made it possible for the group to make the album a second and final time; a lengthy and often overwhelming burden that was shared by his younger sibling and fellow bandmate.
Playing in bands together was inevitable for brothers Peter and Jeff van Helvoort, as there were few like-minded musicians in the small town where they grew up. As a result, people began to see a lasting connection between the two that has persisted from the first band they formed together 10 years ago, to present day Teenage Kicks, but has never been as apparent as it is on the group’s debut full-length. Spoils of Youth represents the van Helvoorts’ continued aspiration to produce music that is true to themselves and to the music they’ve always loved; songs rife with honesty, integrity, and truth.
There is a certain desperation that has been transferred from the Kicks’ live shows onto this record; a kind of anxiety that permeates through these songs of hope, desire, love, and hate that was absent in the band’s previous release Be On My Side. The desperation and anxiety coalesce to give Spoils of Youth an honest and human feeling that seems rare in modern mainstream rock music. The band successfully manages to walk many different musical lines throughout the album, all of which have the ability to elicit a wide variety of emotional responses from the listener. If it is meant to do anything, Spoils of Youth is meant to make you feel.
Throughout their short yet tumultuous career Teenage Kicks have refused to pander to passing fads and trends. They choose not to be defined by a token “Rock and Roll” outfit or a boisterous social media presence; but instead by the quality and honesty of songs, or the heart that they contain. Come what may, Teenage Kicks will continue to reject what is passing for success these days in exchange for the chance to represent rock music without irony and cliché. If you are willing to give Teenage Kicks your attention, you can expect to receive only their truest expressions and you can experience those for yourself on their new album Spoils of Youth.
Teenage Kicks are:
Jeff & Peter van Helvoort.