We live in serious times when the President of the United States warns of severe retaliations for leaders who threaten American values. Ho hum. The members of Hey Violet understand that the melodrama of everyday life makes the world’s problems seem unimportant. The things that really matter are friends, fashion, and relationships. This doesn’t make them shallow. It makes them real. Let’s face it. For most of us, world events have only minimal impacts on our daily existence. Who we hang out with has nothing to do with the news—real or fake.
So when Hey Violet declare that if they were president, they would exterminate a certain group of people, they are not speaking of genocide but of “Fuqboi”—self-centered assholes that may be cute but make one feel degraded. The adolescent hyperbole captures the intensity of feelings that belie the importance of being cool. (They would kill them all, no matter what country they resided in.) Being real to oneself matters more.
From the Outside is a modern masterpiece that declares one’s choices in life are one’s own. That may be self-centered and even purposely self-delusional, but it serves the higher truth that one is more important (at least to oneself) than any other person. Being authentic is more important than being what someone else wants you to be. Just ask Walt Whitman, whose “Song of Myself” shares a strong affinity with the values expressed here.
Hey Violet declare they are “O.D.D.”, punning off the dual references to being strange and having a learning disability. On “All We Ever Wanted”, they take shouted pride in being just like this—as they really are. They know they have a lot to learn but announce that they’ve already learned a lot and won’t back down just because they’re young or others think they should. This is rock and roll from the outside, as the title of the album suggests. They don’t don the guise of a typical girl in a T-shirt and sneakers sitting in the bleachers like Taylor Swift, but the pink haired girl sitting in the back of the classroom who tries not to fit in and weirdly not stand out at the same time.
And there is also sex. Not the sinful or show-off kind, but one that emerges from real desire. The music pounds with longing as the lyrics coyly suggest cravings and needs “even if it takes all night” to be fulfilled. Exploring one’s body is just another method of self-awareness, and who doesn’t want pleasure? As Hey Violet note, “Love may be a four-letter word, but that never stopped anybody.” Understanding the physical world makes one grow and develop. That can also mean pain. “Break my heart,” they sing. They want to experience everything for the experience itself! They are youthful enough to endure it all.
But enough of sober discussion. Hey Violet are fun! The music and lyrics capture the joy and confidence of youth with a smile. The dozen tracks here exude attitude. There’s enough spirit to launch a fleet of Zeppelins and fill arenas with laughing gas. They celebrate being young, optimistic, and different. “Hail, hail rock and roll,” as Chuck Berry used to sing, “deliver me from the days of old.” Hey Violet do just that.
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