Where's wolfie??? Wherrrrrrrre's Wolfieeeee? THERE's Wolfie!
I'm sorry, I just had to say that. See, it's hard to seperate the cute-n-cuddly Wolfie from The Like Young, even though the two bands are most certainly NOT interchangable. Sure, Wolfie was cute and cuddly and crunchy indie-pop with a bit of a punk edge to it, but The Like Young--which consists of Wolfie's husband 'n' wife duo of Amanda and Joe Ziemba--is a whole 'nother beastie.The Like Young have obtained a balance of cuteness and seriousness that Wolfie never could get right. Lambasted for being too cute to be contenders, Wolfie suffered the ultimate cuddlecore fate of being precious.
Art Contest, The Like Young's debut album, does owe a little teeny-weenie bit to Wolfie. Thankfully, it's only a little bit, and it's the best part--the bubblegum. Yes, The Like Young's a cute band, but they're also a really really good band. Every song on this disk is a one-two punch of pop-punk--and the Wolfie years were what made this duo so tough. That's right, they're tough. They had to be--Wolfie got picked on quite a lot, and so I'm sure they spent time working on their toughness. Last year's EP was a pleasant, shocking surprise--these two kids had really grown over the course of a band, and Art Contest continues that growth.
Kicking off with the wonderful "Expensive Tastes," you're quickly taken for a ride, through a land that consists of songs about snobs and slobs and leather jacket and falling in love and nice people, and they never fail to bring a smile to your face. Every song is a hit in my book; every song delivers everything a pop song should, and it's clear that the Ziembas are onto something good. In fact, I'm pretty sure they could make Rivers Cuomo jealous and his former fans happy again. Heck, when I have this one on the car stereo, I crank it up to eleven. Who knew?
While it's true that the boy/girl power punk-pop duo sound could get old rather quickly, it's obvious that the Ziembas also understand this, and they keep things short and to the point. None of these eleven songs overstay their welcome; they're in and out with flash and pop and by the time you're humming along--after the first listen, mind you--they've already moved to the next one. They also pace things quite nicely; a fast song is then followed by a midtempo or a Joe song is followed by an Amanda-led song. Believe me, it's all good.
Art Contest is one of this years better debut albums, and it's no surprise that their tours have been well-received. The Like Young are a band who may be, like, young, but I'm almost positive that 2004 will give them more. In fact, I'm sure of it. A fresh blast of pop-punk, Art Contest is a wonderfully satisfying record, and if it is any indication, then 2004 may just be THEIR year. I sure hope so...