You're not going to believe this, but a group of Canadian teenagers just made a confident and mature EP of '80s style alterna punk rock.

St. Catharines, Ontario-based band STANDARDS has a fairly noteworthy thing or two going for their debut EP, KID. One, it was recorded before the bandmembers hit legal drinking age in Ontario (which is 19 years old). Two, it was mastered by Bob Weston of Shellac and the new incarnation of Mission of Burma. However, let’s go on: it’s actually pretty, pretty darn tootin’ good. Clearly, it doesn’t seem like the product of teenagers. Imagine if you took the coming-of-age anthem “I’m An Adult Now” by the Pursuit of Happiness and injected it with an amped up version of the Pogues, and you would have the title track of the four song shot. However, there’s some really neat touches, such as how the band channels distortion on “Haze”. And the sequencing is interesting: a less-than-three-minute song is immediately followed by one that almost reaches the five-minute mark. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If these guys sound particularly confident, it turns out they’ve been making music for a long, long time. (Well, long time being subjective when dealing in teenaged years.) The earliest incarnation of the group dates back to when two of its members were in Grade 6. However, the band’s full line-up congealed in 2009. So, for a group that’s essentially five years old, and one that is full of teenagers, you’ll be surprised at the heft and muscularity of this material. Dare I say the “m” word? Mature. Heck, you’d think these guys would be playing pop-punk or whatever’s the rage these days. But STANDARDS have a clearly defined sound. While their songs are strong, they’re also evocative of ’80s alternative rock in a way, so the familiarity sometimes works against the band. Still, they were less than 19 years old when they recorded this! I’ll cut ‘em some slack and just say that I hope post-secondary education doesn’t derail these guys’ plans. With some luck, STANDARDS might have an album in ‘em that may just be required listening for anyone interested in Canadian rock.

RATING 7 / 10