Some of you are probably at pop punk revival critical mass by now. I totally get that, I do. But the reason this subgenre keeps coming back is because for every three shitty Wavves copycats and Best Coast pretenders there’s a group like the Shanghais breathing snotty new life into the scene. The Oakland four piece just released their second EP Sick of You but they sound so self-assured you’d think they’d been encouraging legions of pogo dancers in the Bay Area for a couple decades.
That said, Sick of You is a good sized leap ahead of its predecessor Pretty Mean both in terms of songcraft and execution. Pretty Mean is a streamlined, fun introduction to the group where every song clocked in under two minutes, but it peaked early with “Missed Connection,” a track that crammed a dizzying number of harmonies and hooks into a minute and a half. The EP’s digital bonus track “Too Cool to Cry” even hinted at a different kind of future for the group, where the Shangri-La’s hook of their name and look was more literal.
On the follow-up “Can I See You Tonight?” the Shanghais ditch the Ramones influence in favor of some Johnny Thunders style glam, complete with a throaty growl at the end of each verse before the whoa-oh-ohs kick in on the chorus. Yet the Shanghais arguably save the best for last with “Tender Teens,” which features a Misfits-like bass and drums intro before turning into a slice of Go-Go’s pop punk group harmony. The chorus stutters the title, turning the softness of “tender” into a fist pumping refrain of hard consonants and drawn out ees. The verse vocals almost hiccup the lyrics, masking the song’s aggressive instrumentation with a faux-shy delivery, eventually building to a bridge that’s all wordless pop vocals and a four to the floor beat and an outro where there’s a vocal hook around every corner.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Loser City as well as Ovrld, where he contributes music reviews and writes a column on undiscovered Austin bands. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with Dylan Garsee on twitter: @Nick_Hanover