Latch Key Kids, Democracy: The Art of Maintaining a State of Fear
It’s like they never left the club. It may’ve been more than a decade since died-and-resurrected punks Latch Key Kids last released any new music, but listening to the new Democracy: The Art of Maintaining a State of Fear EP, I feel like I just watched ’em amble off the stage for a while to grab a couple of beers, and now they’re back up there for a second set.
And for my money, that’s a great thing. I like more “modern” punk as much as anybody, sure, but hell, I grew up with this. Late-’90s pop-punk served as the soundtrack for a big chunk of my youth, and LKK were a part of that soundtrack, along with similar folks like Face to Face, Bad Religion, and Dynamite Boy. So I just can’t help but crack a smile when I hear Tim Guerinot’s trademark roar over those snarling, metallic guitars and breakneck, hardcore-speed drums — it’s like running into an old friend again at a party, somebody you haven’t seen in ages, and finding that against all odds, you’re still friends, even with all that time and distance between you.
Granted, Democracy isn’t going to be for everybody, and for pretty much the same reasons I’m loving listening to it. As Guerinot himself grumbles on “Back in the Day,” the punk scene these days is a far, far different animal than it was back then; I don’t mean that it’s necessarily bad, mind you, but that times have changed. The Kids, for all of the years between the Good Old Days of Houston punk and right now, have held true to the sound they’d created back then. I’m glad, but I’m also smiling knowingly when Guerinot smirks, “Give me a stack of 45s / One day you youngsters will realize / I was born in 1973” — yep, right there with you.
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, by the way, that “Back in the Day” is the highlight of the EP for me; it’s loud and heavy but still a melodic, fist-pumping anthem, and the lyrics are a poignant (to me, anyway) look backwards to those aforementioned Good Old Days, a time Old Man Me can at least still vaguely remember. It’s a hell of a song, one I’ve been unable to get out of my head for days now, nostalgia value aside.
The rest of the EP hits the mark, too, thankfully, even if it can’t quite compare to “Back in the Day.” Opener “Hear Me Roar” is fiery and ferocious, a thundering minute-and-a-half shot across the bow that’s meant to show how the band means business, and hell yeah, it works. After that track and “Back in the Day,” the slow, more deliberately metal-sounding intro to “Shine the Light” unfortunately undercuts some of the mmomentum the Kids have built, but the song picks up and redeems itself later on.
The closing track, “Reserve,” is more metallic and sharp-edged, seemingly a warning of some kind, even if it’s never really clear what the warning’s for. Despite the EP’s politically-minded title, these guys haven’t gone all Anti-Flag since re-forming; the political bent here is kept vague, aimed more at clamoring for big-T Truth than at making any particular change politically.
Which is fine by me, so long as the music stays this raw and furious. While Democracy spins, like I said, it’s like the band never left — the scene never died or mutated into something else, the kids never grew up and moved onto the next new musical trend, and we’re all young, brave, and foolish, forever and ever and ever. Who in their right mind wouldn’t grab hold of that feeling? Welcome back, guys.