Has there been a recent debut album more anticipated than “Growing Up,” the first album by LA-based punk band The Linda Lindas? An immediately lovable group of teens and tweens who burst onto the forefront of everyone’s minds in the middle of the pandemic with a video of them performing at a public library of all places? It was immediately endearing.
The Linda Lindas released “Growing Up” last week, and while the concept of growing up as a whole gets mixed reviews, “Growing Up” the album is a non-stop source of fun, anger and solid punk rock.
Standouts on “Growing Up” include the album’s title track, which captures youthful exuberance so beautifully in the chorus as the band sings “We’ll dance like nobody’s there/ We’ll dance without any cares/ We’ll talk ’bout problems we share/ We’ll talk ’bout things that ain’t fair/ We’ll sing ’bout things we don’t know/ We’ll sing to people and show/ What it means to be young and growing up.”
It’s so common to see girls and young women in music forced to act older in order to be taken seriously, and the embrace of the band’s youth on the title track, as well as throughout the whole album, is so refreshing to see. The band can be composed of teen and pre-teen girls singing about being young girls, and still be taken seriously because their talent is undeniable.
It seems that we’re also approaching a renaissance of sorts for young women to sing and create art about being young women, and not have it relegated to just being “girl’s music” or “art for girls” like the “chick flick” of the early 2000’s (a cursed time to be a young woman), rather, having it be appreciated as a work as a whole, and it’s exciting to see The Linda Lindas at the forefront of this for punk music.
Like almost all great punk albums, “Growing Up” is short: coming in at just under 26 minutes. There’s no cutting corners on it, though, the album is direct and to the point. There’s no vagueness or ambiguity that you might find in other music—it’s hard to be more direct than calling out drummer Mila de la Garza’s racist classmate on “Racist, Sexist Boy.”
The song was written after one of de la Garza’s classmates had made a racist comment. The band members, who are of Asian-American and Latinx descent, took no qualms with calling out the comment, and embracing their heritage, including on the Spanish-language “Cuántas Veces,” in which guitarist and vocalist Bela Salazar sings about feeling like an outsider, while coming to a place of acceptance about it.
Speaking of that song, has there ever been a band more primed for success than The Linda Lindas after they went viral performing “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library last year? The video of the girls impressively channeling the best that the riot grrrl genre came to embody was shared by dozens of elder punk statesmen, including Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.
Throughout the album, it’s easy to see where the band gets their influences from, including some of the aforementioned names. They clearly grew up on some pop punk, as well as new-wave influences that can be heard in the quick-paced, energetic “Talking to Myself.” The band claims the reins of reinventing the riot grrrl genre for a whole new generation in “Remember,” evidenced by them also covering the Bikini Kill song “Rebel Girl.”
The band members, who are of Asian-American and Latinx descent, took no qualms with calling out the comment, and embracing their heritage, including on the Spanish-language “Cuántas Veces,” in which guitarist and vocalist Bela Salazar sings about feeling like an outsider, while coming to a place of acceptance about it.
A lot will be written about the band members’ ages, so much to the point that it seems pointless to bring it up yet again, but here goes nothing: it’s amazing how self-assured “Growing Up” is for such a young band so early in their careers. It’s an album that a more established band could be proud of years and years into their career, but this band is made up of teens and pre-teens. I can’t wait to see where their careers will take them for decades after this.
The Linda Lindas’ debut is out now.