Review: Problem Daughter – Grow Up Trash

Real is an overplayed card in punk rock. Its very beginnings were drenched in authenticity before authenticity became a thing, and now it’s a prerequisite, a harbinger of credibility.

Problem Daughter show how authentic and real aren’t one and the same. Authenticity seems somehow to involve an active choice to be authentic. Realness, well, that’s just an effortless spotlight on a truth.

The Salt Lake City punks specialise in that spotlight. In a time that demands attention on the political, Problem Daughter’s slacker urban narratives are personal, self-critical, utterly knowing.

Weave in a few timeless cultural references, distinctive, snarling vocals and a deeply cynical side-eye and you have the makings of a band who sound like nobody else.

Their debut album, Fits Of Disorganized Boredom, has been a favourite of ours since its release in 2016. It’s been reviewed and recommended, it’s popped up in an Album Of The Year list – it’s even been the subject of a podcast episode.

I adore it. Album number two is even better.

Grow Up Trash is, appropriately and perhaps ironically, the sound of a melodic punk band growing up. It’s Fits Of Disorganized Boredom refined. Brevity is the order of the day and the spiteful, swaggering attitude stays undiluted as a result. No song outstays its welcome.

‘Pocket Sand’ begins the second album in much the style of the first but it quickly becomes apparent that the opener and ‘Mercury In Retrograde’ are demonstrations of a tightness, a focus, that pushes Problem Daughter forward.

If nothing else, they’re maturing into a fine set of self-editors.

‘Modern Stigmata’ is a glorious anthem, layered with little vocal flourishes throughout a song that’s pretty fucking addictively catchy in its own right.

‘Self Amusing Smile’ – the album’s lead single – is Problem Daughter in one handy package, from the sinister opening bars to the punchy verses and the toe-tapping chorus.

If it’s straight-up catchy brat-punk you want, ‘A Bastard’s Hope’ and ‘Tired About It’ have got you covered before Grow Up Trash ends with ‘Gin + Mio’, like so much of the rest of the album a song whose substance is rather darker than its upbeat nature.

This album is a fabulous example of a band growing into their craft and their voice. Problem Daughter are a street-corner raconteur blessed with all the hooks and melodies and choruses he needs to draw an audience.

I hope the band can attract a congregation in real life, too. These albums, these riffs and songs, these vocals – they deserve every success that comes their way.

Grow Up Trash will be released on March 22nd on Bearded Punk Records.

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Chris Nee