Boston “bummer pop” outfit Future Teens return with the shimmering new single, “Same Difference.”
Stream: “Same Difference” – Future Teens
There’s this lyric from the Future Teens song “Separated Anxiety” that I have thought about regularly since hearing it for the first time in the spring of 2021 – “So when I said, ‘I don’t hate myself, I guess. I’m just tired and overwhelmed.’ At least I’m glad I finally said something I felt.”
And there is this place where the band’s songs – musically, often infectiously written, accessible, and even exuberant in execution, converge with incredibly stark reflections on the human condition.
If I were to use the phrase “emo music for adults” to describe a sound, it is understandable why someone might, initially, have some reservations, because, on paper at least, it seems like that would be an absolute train wreck. And in the hands of a less capable group, it certainly would be.
And when I do use the phrase “emo music for adults,” it is not in reference to a bulk of the Hot Topic adjacent emo acts that rose to prominence throughout the early 2000. No—it’s in reference to a thoughtful, somewhat gentler, catchy, and melodic sound, appealing to folks who are now within a specific age demographic (mid-to-late 30s or older) who are still clinging to their original copies of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity or Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids, and still revisit each with since regularity.
Thoughtful, gentler, catchy, and melodic, but often full of extremely sobering and difficult self-reflection.
Based out of Boston, Future Teens could, and have, been described in myriad ways, including the half in earnest and half in jest conceit of the group in its earliest days: “a high school band who reunited in their 20s but still continued playing their juvenile repertoire.” And perhaps out of ease that the band calls itself “bummer pop” in the short bio on its Bandcamp page, but arguably, the group is making what I would consider “emo music for adults.”
Arriving just slightly over a year following the band’s Deliberately Alive EP and released in conjunction while the four-piece has embarked on a European tour, Future Teens have returned with a new single, “Same Difference.”
Musically, this time out, Future Teens do not stray very far from the sound you are, perhaps, already familiar with—guitar-driven power pop, and they cram as much of it as they can into less than three minutes. Structurally, “Same Difference” includes some additional layers of jangle and bombast by having a tambourine and a strummed acoustic guitar—both elements create a subtle yet dramatic flair to the places in the song where they appear.
Self-effacing and often humbling personal observations have played a significant role in Future Teens’ songwriting since the beginning, regardless of who handles lead vocal duties—the group is co-fronted by guitarists and singers Amy Hoffman and Daniel Radin. And yes, while “Same Difference” is lyrically rooted in a place of deprecation, it, as had been implied in Radin’s lyricism on a few songs from Deliberately Alive, is attempting, as much as he can, play against type and take steps toward some emotional reckoning and growth.
“Did I finally start to figure it out,” Radin asks within like, the first two seconds of “Same Difference.” “Who the hell I wanted to be by now?/Somebody that can actually laugh at things they did ‘cause they were sad.”
Mental health – an awareness of your own and those around you – was a recurring theme across four of the five tunes on Deliberately Alive. Here, “Same Difference” finds Radin and Hoffman musing on the notion that to connect with another person, seeking out someone equally as damaged or emotionally unwell as you are is not the best decision.
“If you look for someone just as different,” the two sing in the song’s chorus. “Well, then not every part is going to fit/It’s not either/or to give up or give in.”
Mental health – an awareness of your own and how it might impact those around you – is at the heart of “Same Difference.” That revelation arrives within its final 30 seconds, as Radin begins taking those self-aware strides towards both growth and understanding of how you can inadvertently push others away when you are deep in a fog of depression. “Spent so long beside myself/couldn’t imagine me with someone else,” he admits. “Who’ll sit down next to me?/Turns out, I hadn’t saved a seat./It’s simple, but not easy to make room for somebody.”
The “power” in the “power pop” Future Teens is making comes from the exuberance the songs are often arranged with and the personal, identifiable, and resonant lyricism. “Same Difference” is a shimmering slice of whatever you want to call it – emo music for adults; bummer pop – an intersection where the something short, catchy, and has a shout-a-long chorus collides head-on with writing that leaves you feeling extremely seen.
Stream: “Same Difference” – Future Teens
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📸 © Adam Parshall
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