With ironic pop-punk mocking and earnest whining, Teenage Bottlerocket tries and fails to have it both ways.
On They Came From the Shadows, Teenage Bottlerocket comes off as a group of smirking party animals. The band jokes its way through the bratty skate-park anthem "Skate or Die" and mock rock 'n' roll bravado on "Better Than Kiss". While those songs are infectious and obvious attempts at humor (the band claims "Detroit couldn't rock its way out of a paper bag" on the latter) the band is clearly at its best. Unfortunately, the band tries to have it both ways on this record. Those early songs seem to mock pop-punk culture, but the rest of the way the band falls into its same traps. Teenage Bottlerocket whines, meets girls at the show, and feels some vague form of dismissal. Even the title track, an attempt at a horror-flick-made-rock-song, sounds flat and uninspired. It's bad enough when the band can't decide if it wants us to bust a gut or pump our fist, but when it settles somewhere in between those and phones in a lethargic version of its energetic sound, you won't really want to do either.