June 25, 2018
Pink Pots is sounding all grown up. Well, they are at least sounding much more grown up than the last time we heard from them. Pink Pots, the pseudonym of 19 year old songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist Todd Jordan, has been self-recording and releasing material since his first demo in 2015, Ekzodia. Jordan’s early work, especially Ekzodia, is extremely scattershot and lo-fi to a point where it barely holds itself together. It’s the sound of a young man (in high school at the time) experimenting with sounds, instrumentation, his voice and the conventions of songwriting. This experimentation has carried through to his effort, Adolescence Jacket, but in a much more conventional, refined package. His songwriting has grown exponentially over the band’s short career and, although still recorded as mainly DIY, the sound quality has improved immensely. It is a sonically pleasant album, without sacrificing the fascinating curiosity of his earlier work.
A surprising new development on Adolescence Jacket is Pink Pots’ gravitation toward the emo scene. Tracks such as “A Winternity of Snowfall” and “Shadow of Crowders Mountain” have the drive, hooks and screams that made albums like The Hotelier’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There such a hit with critics and audiences alike. (“Shadow of Crowders Mountain” also contains the only section of the album with contributions by anyone other than Jordan. Cody Qiu plays the violin and piano on the outro to the track, which is a beautiful segue out of a frantic, crazed song.) The addition of heavily distorted guitars and guttural screams fits Pink Pots extremely well, and seems like an avenue that he could find a lot of success in pursuing further.
One of the best things that Pink Pots does on this album is showcase his ability to write an infectious hook. “Something’s Not Working,” one of the most accessible tracks on the album, has an absolute earworm of a chorus, with a fantastic drive behind it as a second vocal jumps onto the melody an octave up. The chorus is so energized and anthemic that you can image a room full of people screaming along to it with the band which includes Phillip Calhoun (guitar), Cole Brooks (drums), and Magda Criswell (bass) for their live performances. Many other catchy melodies are peppered throughout the album, especially on “A Winternity of Snowfall,” “Weddington Makeout Point” and “The City in Shambles.”
Continuing the tradition of experimenting with their sound, Pink Pots refuses to be confined to the standards of a young emo band. Adolescence Jacket features many oddities for the genre, including banjos, keyboards or pianos on most tracks, and an explosive instrumental track, “Death Song.” This track has a slow build, starting out with acoustic guitars and light oohs, but each time the refrain starts over, additional instruments join, building to a soaring finish. The entire album is dedicated to the memory of Eric Lockwood, the previous music director at the Charlotte School of Rock and a fixture in the Charlotte music scene.
Despite the lyrically matured sound of the album, the long shadow of high school and childhood hangs heavily over the songs. The opening line, “Everyone’s lives seem to be figured out,” is a commonly held belief as kids see all of their friends applying to colleges and moving out of their hometowns. These thoughts plague us from time to time, but as we get older it becomes more evident that pretty much no one has anything figured out. On “To Live and Die in Suburbia,” Jordan focuses on the bland repetition of life in the suburbs and how he doesn’t think he will ever fit in. That point of view is an assumed truth for most creative people, but it holds more weight coming from someone currently trapped in the suburbs they grew up in, trying to figure out exactly how to escape to a more fulfilling life.
Adolescence Jacket is filled to the brim with infectious energy and smart songwriting. There’s not a bad track among the ten, and it’s nice to see this level of care and detail without the aid of outside producers, songwriters or instrumentalists. If Jordan can create something this compelling at such a young age on his own, it will be exciting to see just how far he can go.
Adolescence Jacket is available to stream or purchase on all major digital outlets, and is also available to purchase on CD or cassette through Bandcamp. Follow Pink Pots on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.