Whippersnapper – Appearances Wear Thin

Appearances Wear Thin

Welcome to Whippersnapper’s world. You’re a young punk band from Georgia with more records to your name than your birth certificate would allow others to think. You’ve already toured with most of your heroes: The Queers, Lagwagon, Hot Water Music, and Less than Jake. You have a beat-up van. Most of the girls you graduated from high school with no longer reject you but show up at your shows in studded belts and t-shirts with stars on them. Oh yeah – you’re deep dude. You’ve got a lot of wicked insights on friendship and loneliness and life and shit. And when you’ve got an ax on your shoulder, you can jump real high.
That’s all a little bit harsh, but there’s not a whole lot of fiction in the above paragraph. Whippersnapper were indeed signed after they got out of high school, and they’ve been playing together since 1992. They have toured with all of the aforementioned bands. Most of the time, they sound like a whole lot like Hot Water Music, only a little more polished. They have all of the buzzed guitars and circuitous leads of a post-hardcore pop outfit.
Despite the cynicism with which I approach this type of music, Whippersnapper really do a pretty good job. Despite the fact that they don’t have a shred of individuality, and that their lead singer sounds like a diary on crutches, they write some pretty decent tunes. Songs like “Forever” and “Gone but not Forgotten” are hooky enough to make you forget lines like “We never say forever to each other anymore, and it’s harder every time you go away.” When the flow of the music picks things up, these lines don’t sound nearly as awkward. The chorus of “To the Third Degree” reminds me (probably unintentionally) of Bob Mould, though the chunky faux-hardcore of the verse is regrettable. A song like “23 Years” is ruined only by lines like “23 years since the last revolution…there’s a murderer walking through your mind…you can save yourself / the answer’s not in anybody else…say a prayer for the next generation.”
For the most part, though, the bands avoids such obvious missteps. The songs are all catchy enough, and if you get off on this sort of thing, then I can’t think of too many bands that sound tighter than Whippersnapper. My biggest complaint about this music is that it’s just so tame. There’s not one dissonant note on the whole album. The lead singer has an appropriately gruff tone to his voice. The band is battle-hardened in that road-trip punk sort of way. Quite simply, this band is unforgivably unexceptional.