Sometimes, the simplest title is the best. ‘Growing Up’ is the debut album by LA teen punks The Linda Lindas, and, in their hands, those two words are anything but a cliché. It can be easy to forget the intricacies of growing up: sure, we remember the personal and existential questioning and the painful or embarrassing lessons, but do we also remember facing all of that with intelligence, resilience and open-heartedness? To hear all of this across an album made by those actually in the thick of it is immensely valuable.
The Linda Lindas (comprising guitarists Bela Salazar, 17, and Lucia de la Garza, 15; bassist Eloise Wong, 14; and drummer Mila de la Garza, 11) were catapulted to viral success in May 2021 thanks to a performance of their riot grrrl rager ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’. That, combined with opening slots for Bikini Kill, may have introduced them as punk rock revivalists, and tracks on here like ‘Fine’ and the aforementioned ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’ are vital, powerful bursts of punk fury. Yet when they let their pop music imaginations run free it’s equally impressive, with tracks like ‘Growing Up’, ‘Talking To Myself’ and ‘Magic’ showcasing a gift for catchy, singalong choruses.
It’s powerful to hear the depth with which the band members illustrate their internal worlds. This album was written in the thick of the pandemic, with schools shut down and family members far away; all the loneliness and confusion of adolescence magnified. ‘Why’ is a heartbreaking outpouring of frustration from Wong, while ‘Cuántas Veces’ is a Spanish-language journey from disillusionment to self-acceptance from Salazar. ‘Talking To Myself’ sees Mila providing some wise-beyond-her-years insight: “How life just keeps on giving / Despite all my bad decisions / I’m still here and I’m still living”. Meanwhile, the social protests on ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’ and ‘Fine’ represent a generation of youth who are more aware of their power and committed to using it than any before them.
The album’s finest moment is its title track, where, over crunchy Paramore-esque guitars, Lucia weaves a moving narrative of camaraderie and a determination to enjoy this turbulent time in life. “Make every moment last, we’ll have each other’s backs,” she promises, in what becomes a sort of theme song for the band. “We’ll sing to people and show what it means to be young and growing up.” What The Linda Lindas show us here could go a long way, even for those who think they’re done with growing up.
- Release date: April 8
- Record label: Epitaph Records