Jukebox Breakdown: Lifetime – “Young, Loud, and Scotty”
by Chad Jewett
Hello Bastards, the seminal 1995 LP from New Jersey emo-core legends Lifetime was (and remains) a breathless, giddy rush, retaining some of the muscular density of the previous decade’s East Coast hardcore, but further investing in the melody and pop shapes explored by bands like Gorilla Biscuits at the tail end of that first hardcore crest. Songs like “I Like You Ok” lasted no longer than your average wait at a stoplight, but still had time for hooks, thoughtful (though nearly always archetypally “adolescent male”) narratives, and a surprisingly confident grasp on making songs go places other than faster-faster-breakdown-faster again. Jersey’s Best Dancers, the band’s 1997 follow up was a prototypical sharpening of strategies, an album that, as if by fate, lasted only a spare minute longer than its predecessor, yet felt like it somehow contained multitudes. If there weren’t that many emo bands that sounded like Lifetime (give or take early records by kindred spirits like Saves The Day), there were plenty that learned from the romance and coming-of-age drama that made Jersey’s Best feel like an over-caffeinated novella.
“Young, Loud and Scotty”, the second song from that album, condenses all of this into a spry, ever-evolving minute and 59 seconds (as with the “extra minute” run-time, that one-second short of two minutes feels significant). Built from a grinding, rock-steady rhythm section undergirding a keening two-note riff (it’s gestures like this that truly link Rites of Spring to emo’s second wave), “Young, Loud and Scotty” feels markedly measured and airy, especially after the rocket-fuel intro of “Turnpike Gates”. But the song’s affecting atmosphere is also a product of Ari Katz’s Whitman-esque lyrics, a set of snapshots that, when placed together, form a remarkably full picture of late night rumination: “Is it silly to think that this will never happen again? / But of course I’ll call you tonight / Did you know you missed my birthday? / The loneliest it gets is when the wind begins to chill / And when I stand atop of your old street the churchtops bring a stillness to me”. On the page, the lyrics read like stream-of-consciousness, a cascade of thoughts never quite completed or explicitly sewn together; yet the effect is vivid and transporting, as complete a picture of a place, time, and sentiment as this kind of thoughtful, searching punk would produce. It’s a triumphant, watershed moment, even 19 years later – young, loud and poignant.