After listening to Poster Children’s album DDD released in 2000, I was astonished to learn that they’ve managed to record and produce it in about a month. A collection full of varying melodic hooks, tempos and styles — one that encompasses a large spectrum of rock should take at least a half a year to make, right? Not for this Champagne Il. band at least. With a decades-old refinement to their sound and a consistency that can be matched by only a few, it should be no surprise that DDD sounds as good as it is.
Going through and reviewing their discography has gotten me convinced that Poster Children is an exemplar that all artists should strive to emulate. They’re a band that freely makes music the way they want to. There’s never a half-assed effort or an undeveloped idea. From the first record they’ve put out until the latest, the band feels fresh and energetic in their pursuit of making music.
The record, as always, starts with a bang. “This town needs a fire” is both fast and has the rhythm of a caffeinated teen let loose in a jungle gym. Howie Kantoff’s drums are as airtight as ever, leveraged by claps and cymbals that rumble right into the pocket. “Daisy Changed” is a cool look back to their early years, referencing their very first record Daisychain reaction. The band offers an allegorical tale on the change that they’ve been through during their career. “Daisy Changed / “She’s not the same / She’s all grown up / How about you?”. It comes of as a sneer – perhaps to the naysayers on their development as rockers going from hardcore into lighter pop, but the music keeps everything light and cool-headed. As if merely trying to shrug them off in their complaints.
In “Zero Stars” the band seems to relish in their low-key status as one of the most overlooked and underrated groups of their time: “We don’t play arenas, we only play in bars / We don’t need to pay someone to plug in our guitars / We’re zero stars”. A weird twist of self-deprecating humor while giving off a sense that they’re perfectly fine and comfortable where they are.
Other highlights include the funky yet fuzzy sounds of “The Old School and the New”. “Judge Freeball” is what math rock would have sounded like if it came rooted from grunge and shoegaze, while “Persimmon” is a growling rock track that waxes biblical in its message to caution against blind passion.
DDD finds Poster Children still chugging, on pace and only getting better for more than a decade. If we pit them against other bands of their time and lay out their careers in a marathon, we’d surely find them on top.