The Adolescents review by The Adolescents

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (6 votes)
The Adolescents: The Adolescents

Sound — 9
The Adolescents' self titled debut, also called "The Blue Album", was released in 1981 in the midst of the '80s punk revival. It still garners praise for the band to this day, with tracks being used in video games, movies, and skateboarding videos, and California punk sales of the album being 2nd only to the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. The Adolescents formed in 1980 in California and are considered one of the leading bands of the '80s punk revival. They are a supergroup made up of former and future members of Agent Orange, D.I., and Social Distortion. They consisted of Tony Cadena on vocals, Frank and Rikk Agnew on guitars, and Casey Royer and Steve Soto on drums and bass, respectively. The guitars are very rough and distorted as well as the vocals of Cadena, and the drums and bass beat through speakers like a stampede of angry punks. It's a raw and jarring attack from start to finish, and it is personally my favorite punk album I've heard to date.

Lyrics — 9
01. "I Hate Children": the album opens with an irritated declaration: I hate children. It's a fast song with distortion ripping through the speakers and the harsh vocals of Cadena ripping through your ears. Short and sweet, this sets the tone for the attitude to come. - Lyrics: 7/10 Music: 7/10 02. "Who Is Who": the second song on the album is the first great song on the album. The level of desperation in the music, lyrics, and vocals during the chorus is high: "Walls are closing in on me, I don't know what to do...". This song takes many of the emotions and troubles of adolescence and crams it all into one minute, twenty-two seconds. Even though the song is about total alienation, it uses the repetition of the lyrics "my friends" when talking about the police, teachers, and of course, "friends", to sort of ironically get the point across that he has no real friends. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 8/10 03. "Wrecking Crew": a slow start to this one turns into a fast attack of boredom and thoughts of suicide. The lyrics deal with destruction and violence created by the bored and disenfranchised youth of a boring town or city. "We're just a wrecking crew bored boys with nothing to do!" - that bascially sums it up. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10 04. "L.A. Girl": now for an attack on all the fake people. It could also be dogging on fashion magazines: "L.A. girl, L.A. world - don't tell us how to act, don't tell us what to wear/L.A. Girl, L.A. world - you didn't create our scene". Most of the lyrics, especially the last verse, seem to focus on a girl who tries too hard to be sexy, and Agnew and Cadena, the band members who penned the lyrics, are not interested in their "scene". The music is fast sans the latter half of the chorus - "We don't care, we can't see why..." - which gives off a kind of groovy vibe that one could almost dance to simply by using power chords . - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 9/10 05. "Self Destruct": this one lasts all of forty-seven seconds, making it the shortest song on the album. The title of the song is bascially the plot of the lyrics, and the music goes right along with the manic vocals which end without any solace, the last word being "suicide". The last fifteen seconds is a mess of distortion and feedback with no vocals. Too short to be relevant by itself, it leads into the next song perfectly. - Lyrics: 7/10 Music: 6/10 06. "Kids of the Black Hole": this song was written by Rikk Agnew and was allegedly about an apartment located in Fullerton, CA. The lyrics in the song, such as "house that belonged to all the homeless kids" and "house of destruction where lurkers roamed", are said to be describing how the place was a shelter for kids of the punk scene who were either homeless or were crashing there for an upcoming punk show. The lyrics could be describing any beaten down, drug-addled town, and just about any discontented teenager could relate to them. The music complements this desperation and hopelessness in the lyrics, with the loud and distorted classic punk guitars pounding in the message with just as much force as the lyrics and vocals. - Lyrics: 10/10 Music: 10/10 07. "No Way": about halfway through the album; desperation is still in the extreme. Not many lyrics in this one, just two stanzas with four lines in each. They are good lyrics, however, and the band makes the most of them by repeating them twice and getting more aggravated the second time around. They describe a loser-type tired of the evils of society and the world itself. He's decided to "go home and jack off instead". - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10 08. "Amoeba": thanks to being featured in pop culture of recent years, like the movie SLC Punk! and the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, "Amoeba" has possibly become the band's most popular song. The lyrics describe, well... an amoeba: "One celled creature, one celled thing - hardly knows it's alive...", "I've never seen anything like it before, this amoeba's got a mind of its own". Now, I could speculate that the "amoeba" is a metaphor for some deeper meaning in the lyrics, but who has time for that? This is simply a great song. The music and singing work near perfectly together in this one, and it's got one hell of a choir-sounding chorus that just repeats "Amoeba", and it even features two solos - and good ones at that. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 10/10 09. "Word Attack": "The gun in your hand is the gun at my head." Unless you have super-fast hearing, it's hard to understand the lyrics in this song without reading them in the booklet as you listen. Cadena's vocals here are schizophrenic and so is the music. The backing vocals shine here, answering to almost everything the singer says: "Do you wanna die (No!)". The chorus declares several times, "We'll attack, we'll attack". This one's just long enough to get your blood running - and it helps if you know the lyrics. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 8/10 10. "Rip it Up": this one puts down senseless violence, though it could be mistaken as an ode to violence if you just know the chorus, "Gotta rip it up". In one of the verses he declares that he's "had enough of violence", saying it's "like clockwork orange" and asking the perpetrators if they "think they're tough because they rip it up" (Possibly inspired by gang violence?) By the end of the song, the singer declares that it's time to take action: "We're not the background for your stupid fights/Get out of the darkness, it's time to unite". - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10 11. "Democracy": a nice example of the anti-goverment/authority punk attitude and political stance. The lyrics aren't specific about what is good, but we do gather that democracy is bad. This one slows the pace a bit, with a sort of drum beat that could spark a vision of a thousand marching, baseball bat-weilding punks, and palm muted guitars in the verses that basically mimic the rhythm of the vocals. Yet another great song from a great classic album. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 9/10 12. "No Friends": the lyrics to this one aren't included in the booklet, but they're easy enough to decipher. This song resembles the thinking of "L.A. Girl". "Do you think you're real tough with those locks and chains? You know we wanna use them to beat on your brains", "Just cling to the scene, but not when everybody knows what you are...", "Show up in Fullerton with blue dye on your head/You stupid fucker, I wish you were dead". Posers. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10 13. "Creatures": the album closes with a fast burst of scarred adolescent emotion that embodies what it is to be an outcast. The lyrics deal with having no friends: "I'm not accepted by my peers (So what?)"; and the pain of being shunned by the opposite sex: "They say 'no' so I jerk white tears (Teasers!)". The fast verses break out into an anthemic chorus that cannot be ignored: "I hate them all (Creatures!), I hate all them (Creatures!)". The guitars drive this one as much as the tortured singing and lyrics, and make for a damned near perfect example of the term "punk song". - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 9/10

Overall Impression — 10
The music on this album is unquestionably straight punk rock, and at times it could be compared to The Adicts. For instance, compare The Adolescents' "Amoeba" and The Adicts' "Viva La Revolution". The song structure of the hardcore punk of The Adolescents takes the three-or- four-chord-quick-bursts-of-guitars-singing-and-drums pioneered by that of The Ramones and Television, and makes it even more scathing and powerful, something that could be compared to The Dead Kennedys or The Misfits. The differences between The Adolescents and other bands is that their music deals with more personal issues and the lyrics are universal and can be related to by just about anyone at a certain point in life, whereas a band like The Dead Kennedys' lyrics were more focused. If I were to pick songs from the album to be used as promotional singles, they would be: "Who is Who", "Kids of the Black Hole", "Amoeba", "Democracy", and "Creatures". Punk rock is what got me obsessed with music about eight years ago, and I've yet to hear a punk album I like more than this one. I love the unrelenting anger and blunt honesty in the lyrics, and the loud and distorted guitars and pounding drums that turn that anger into pure rage and desperation. Yet there are parts of the album I don't particularly enjoy, but they are few and far between. "I Hate Childre" and "Self Destruct" are my least favorite songs on the album. I believe I said this on my last review - that if it were stolen I would tell the theif to keep it and listen to it and then force them to give me money to go out and buy myself another copy. And that if I was stupid enough to lose it I would smash my head through a wall and then dig in my car and furniture for change to buy it again.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Oh man! My favorite record on the front page of UG? Good review, and it's nice to see other people who are as passionate about an obscure band like this. The lyrics are easy to get, and I can relate to them. Though, you could have complimented Frank (or even Rikk's) excellent guitar playing. Frank Agnew is possibly my favorite guitarist, and the fact that he was only 15 or 16 years old when he recorded that album is mind blowing.
    Awesome review, it's great to see not all people listen to the same shit. This album is incredible.