Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Run for Cover Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
“How old were you when you first fell out of love with the world?” asks Sam Ray on “America,” midway through Teen Suicide’s second (and what they’ve been teasing as final) album. The question lingers over the record’s 26 tracks, wry and occasionally, yes, joyous-sounding jaunts covering the dismal realities of depression, faith, and addiction in a way that feels lived-in. Rather than taking a judgmental or voyeuristic tone in its stories of buying drugs from a friend’s dad, riding around in pickup trucks, and puking in mall food courts, Ray paints a world of three-dimensional characters trying to cope with exhaustion, resignation, and self-destruction, in the band’s strongest work to date.
In many ways, getting a return statement from Teen Suicide is amazing in and of itself; their 2013 breakup seemed destined to send the band into cult status, known by only a few but beloved by them all. A reunion album seemed rather unlikely given bandleader Sam Ray's looming interest in his Julia Brown and Ricky Eat Acid projects. So the Baltimore band's sigh-of-relief new double-album,"It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honeypot", comes with a question: How best to update, revise and tie up their tumultuous history in one single gesture?As it turns out, that's not an easy thing to sum up.
Somewhere in the sprawling 26 tracks of the latest, and allegedly final, LP from Teen Suicide, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot, you might think about the end of lo-fi recordings. Not that there wouldn’t be any more lo-fi records, but that It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, at once internally coherent and transgressive, sort of takes the genre to its final, logical conclusion. Such a conclusion would be both fallacious and absurd, but somewhere in the record’s nearly 70 minutes, you might entertain the possible truth in fallacy and absurdity.
If you couldn't tell from the title or its 26 tracks or 69-minute length, It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honeypot is A) a glorious communal blowout and B) goddamn mess. Its intentions are messy: Sam Ray resurrected his old band by popular demand (vis-à-vis his other projects Ricky Eat Acid and Julia Brown) and will be touring throughout the spring, yet they are also calling it their last will and testament. Its presentation signifies wild ambition, but Ray appears more interested in capturing fleeting bits of casual brilliance than making good on grandiose designs.
Although it's billed as their final album, It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honeypot is only the second LP from Maryland-based indie outfit Teen Suicide. Formed in 2009 by singer/guitarist Sam Ray and drummer Eric Livingston, the noisy, emo-tinged duo made their recording debut in 2011 with a collection of rough demos called Bad Vibes Forever. A year later, the floodgates opened as four Teen Suicide EPs and one full-length were furiously cast into the world.
Teen Suicide have said that their new album is set to be their last. Their Bandcamp page carries the message: “Signed to RFC. Changing our band name when our contract is up.” If this proves to be true, the completely bonkers number of styles, influences and handbrake turns crushed into its twenty six songs make certain the Maryland clan haven’t left any path untrodden in their tenure as Teen Suicide.