Smile Politely

Review: Midstress’ Growing Up Is Getting Old

Last time we reviewed these guys, they were still the Fresh Kills. This time around, they’re Midstress. Conceived in a timeframe spanning both bandnames, their second full length Growing Up is Getting Old makes it clear that the change has been kind to the band. The slashing riffs, overflowing energy and shouted choruses from last year’s Turn Up the Brilliance are still there, but the steps up in songwriting and production push this album to a higher level.

Things are immediately apparent on album opener “I’m From the Midwest. I’m Softspoken,” which encapsulates everything I love about this band in just under four minutes. Built on a rock-solid chord progression, the song finds space for a lengthy intro and multiple section, but more importantly the sense of urgency and pathos that make a punk record great (Clarity, anyone?). It’s like listening to Minor Threat doing soundtracking for a 1950s high school movie, and — I would argue — one of the absolute best songs to come out of Champaign in recent memory.


Now, this isn’t to say that the band have abandoned their roots — “Time Flies” is a two minute blast that would have fit in perfectly on Turn Up the Brilliance — but they’ve obviously moved into bigger territory, utilizing a pleasantly clear mix that allows you to catch all of the small flourishes and accents that create the band’s kinetic sound. The band use vocal overdubs to great effect on several songs here, but nowhere better than the album’s closer, “Pentagrams in the Attic,” where the fists pumping during the song’s customary live shout-along are almost tangible. It’s also a showcase track for the band’s driving yet melodic lead parts.

The album has several other great tracks, notably the punchy “Gimme Your Wallet” and High Street checking “Too Many Shoes, Not Enough Feet,” but no one song feels lesser than another. Growing Up is Getting Old functions best as a contiguous whole, a sustained shout that compels your attention.

Midstress play tonight at Cowboy Monkey with Santah and Easter ($7 / 9:30 pm). Growing Up is Getting Old is out now via Red Dye Distro.

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