Necking’s debut ‘Cut Your Teeth’ is about building again, failing again, but in spite of its musical tone, always urges growth in bad situations.
Listen: Cut Your Teeth – Necking
On their debut LP, Necking are waking up, hungover from shows, hookups, breakups, and giving it their best shot with the best of humor. The quartet, composed of Nada Hayek (guitar), Hannah Karren (vocals), Sonya R. (bass), and Melissa Kuipers (drums) throw themselves with complete candor at the experience of being young at this moment, mediating their thoughts with only the crunch of guitars and the pounding of drums.
Theirs is a candor that’s deeply refreshing in times of gross euphemism and unbearably cynical attacks on young people for all manner of behavior. Necking’s response is, at times literally, “fuck you.”
The LP, Cut Your Teeth is, in short, the life of urban 20-somethings trying to stay human in the face of a human-hostile moment. Like anyone, they’re trying to make it, whatever that means. The record isn’t universal per-say. Cut Your Teeth is definitely the experience of four women and this builds the foundation of the album. But Necking’s articulation of broader themes – heartbreak, shame, failure, and a touch of weird, embarrassing sexual experiences – will find purchase with a broad swath of listeners
It can’t be overstated how captivating their blunt honesty is. Lyrics like those on “Big Mouth” are at once hilarious and troubling. “Fuck me,” sings Hannah Karren in a sardonic monotone, “Tell all your friends you’ve got me/Can’t make me cum so I make you leave/Way hotter in your memory.” Karren’s honest animosity is a reflection of too many women’s experiences, and salt in the insecurities of legions of mediocre men who think they’re the shit.
Watch: “Big Mouth” – Necking
The writing of Cut Your Teeth saw three-out-of-four members of Necking in the wake of respective breakups, so it was nearly ordained that the album would lean towards a thread of relationships and building again, failing again. But Cut Your Teeth in spite of its musical tone always slouches towards growth in bad situations. “Still Exist” shows us a speaker heartbroken after a breakup asserting “I still exist” over and over as she manages the mundanities of her life despite the pain. It’s the prosaic defiance of survival. ”Go Getter” is the funny coda to “Still Exist,” a 63-second long laundry list of small, banal improvements like “drink less,” and “work out” that ultimately ends in the real gem of “love yourself.”
As Kuipers said in an interview with Straight.com, “I’d be frantically washing my dishes and be like, ‘You’re human, you’re a person,’ even though it felt really bare-minimum. Like, ‘You got out of bed? Good for you, bitch. That’s what you have to do, dumbass.’”
There’s an even more powerful motif in the album that the four women clearly share viscerally amongst each other: found family and reliance on friends. “Drag Me Out” is a speakers plea for her friends to literally come and tear her from her house as she loses herself in the doldrums of a sluggish life and depression, or at least the strong implication thereof. “Who am I when I never leave the house” hits close to home to those familiar with depressive episodes, where all personality seems to dissolve into a grey muck that curbs any effort at recovery.
That is until your friends drag you out and remind you who you are.
Listen: “Drag Me Out” – Necking
Interesting to note also is Jesse Gander, who has also worked with cathartic punk bomb White Lung as well, recorded and mixed Cut Your Teeth, making the album another gem in the Canadian women fronted punk pantheon, a pantheon bigger than you would expect.
Cut Your Teeth isn’t subtle. It isn’t subtle in its heartache, it isn’t subtle in its anger, and it isn’t subtle in its love for humanity and friendship. It rejoices in bombast and bluntness. It is a bucket of ice water over the head on a hungover morning and a friend screaming get up, you’re going to be okay, you’re not alone.
Expect great things from Necking.
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📸 © 2019
Cut Your Teeth
an album by Necking