"Life's just begun / Go have some fun," exhorts Adolescents frontman Tony Cadena on "California Sun," the unofficial theme song of the Disneyland-area quintet's new "O.C. Confidential." While the album's fusion of '60s surf and '70s punk has plenty of youthful swagger, life hasn't just begun for the band. There is one teenager in the Adolescents' lineup, but he's just proof that this is now a middle-aged concern: New guitarist Frank Agnew Jr. is the 18-year-old son of the band's founding (and returning) guitar player.
Cadena, bassist Steve Soto and the elder Agnew are the survivors from the band's short-lived first incarnation, assembled in 1980. After numerous layoffs and personnel changes, the Adolescents split in 1989 and stayed that way till a 2001 reunion gig. Yet they don't sound rusty on "O.C. Confidential," which ranges from odes to general dissatisfaction ("Pointless Teenage Anthem") to explicit political commentary ("Lockdown America," "Monsanto Hayride"). The songs are fast yet melodic, and the backup vocals delivered with pinpoint accuracy. This quick 'n' clean sound is not exactly a novelty: Bad Religion, to name one So-Cal-punk mainstay, has been making such music since 1981 without taking a break. Still, the Adolescents sound fine on their second run, and maybe this time they'll stick together long enough to evolve beyond "California Sun."
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Sunday at the Black Cat with Suicide Machines and Briggs.