16 – Zoloft Smile

16 has undergone even more line-up changes, label changes, and adversity through the last six years since we last heard an album from them (not counting rarities compilation, Scott Case). Despite these problems, the band has soldiered on by delivering yet another scar in the face of safe, trendy, mainstream music. “Damone” opens up the album on a surprisingly up-beat note from a band known for its miserable, pessimistic attitude. Oddly enough, the song draws inspiration from the movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and delivers a driving, catchy, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY-inspired riff. Party time quickly ends with “Hearing Voices,” which lyrically and musically alternates schizophrenic behavior and conflicting emotions with its punchy, HELMET-inspired hardcore and somber, melodic breakdowns. The band then delivers two tales of substance abuse in ways a trillion Hollywood scripts could never imagine. “Workplace On Fire” arrives next, with possibly the anthem of the year. Its catchy riffs and beats coupled with lyrics that both unleash and reflect the feelings of many blue-collar workers that bust their ass daily for the benefit of “The Man”. “Born to Lose” is next, driving the point of the album and 16 home, with both anger and desperation. Meanwhile, “You’re Not My Real Dad” evokes a dark, doomy tale of struggle between anybody that’s ever had a shitty stepparent. “Poverty” closes the album with 16 sounding as miserable as ever with absolutely no reassuring, bullshit consolation to be had, just gut-wrenching, honest lyrical and musical feedback. While some bands age like fine wine, 16 ages more like malt liquor or Jim Beam from the local liquor store, guaranteed to fuck you up and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. (At A Loss Recordings)

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