Content note: this album contains explicit language.
eleventyseven boasts a story at this point that’s truly punk: they were a scrappy up-and-comer in the Christian punk pop movement of the mid-2000s, usually drastically underrated, tending even farther towards the quirky, absurd, and pop-culture-skewering than their peers. In 2014, their band was effectively shut down by the exhausting mechanism of the music industry. In 2016 they began a comeback, releasing their album Rad Science fueled by the grassroots, direct fan-to-band kind of relationships that have always characterized the best of the punk tradition.
These days the the music eleventyseven makes falls more squarely in the electronic pop category, but all the scrappy energy and underdog grit of an early-2000s punk band is still embedded in the band’s lyrical DNA. Basic Glitches continues their model of directly fan-funded releases, fueled by their passionate underground following. If you listened to Rad Science (or singer Matt Langston’s exceptional side project The Jellyrox), you likely have some idea what to expect: kick-to-the-chest lyrics, synths ranging from subtle to dance floor ready grooves, and lyrics that range from tongue-in-cheek sarcastic to whimsical to confessional.
“Killing My Vibe” kicks open the door with one of the best electronic beds of the whole album and searing vocals that create just the right amount of friction. This track could be the best place to start if you want to know who eleventyseven is as a band right now.
Though there are high energy moments like that, the play with musical texture chills out on tracks like the pop culture (and self) referential cut “Cookie,” where Matt half-drawls the lyrics over a slow-vibing beat. “Dizzy” references the 80s with its dream-like synths and delicate falsetto vocals. Simultaneously dance worthy and bittersweet, “Natsunoyo” is a love song about what it looks like when young loves are able to endure the growing pains of disenchantment and disillusionment (“every plan I’ve made has changed but you”).
It’s that voice– the voice of what it sounds like when all the pop punk kids grew up– that really serves as the through line of Basic Glitches. Those of us who were youth group kids around the same time eleventyseven was playing to youth groups have grown up with them, experiencing some of the same disillusionment, rejection, even abuse by a religious system that ultimately discarded many of us. That experience has rarely been captured with much clarity in song form, but “Fear the Fire” pulls it off with breathtaking poignancy. The lyrics struggle their way free from a toxic fear-based religious mindset, Matt voicing the soul-searing cry of so many from our generation: “I threw away the best parts of me for you.” The song is not going to ring true to the experience of everyone who grew up in fundamentalist religious culture, but for those who have felt a similar weight breaking and giving way to freedom, it might be one of the most important songs of their lives.
There are other songs that speak of the experience of maturing, of navigating belief shifts, with surprising heart and insight while housed in electronic pop and sassy lyricism. “Birthrite” is a dark, hard-edged track about fighting to get free from harmful ideologies that lodge themselves in our subconscious. “Skip” takes a look at coping mechanisms, from caffeine to digital addiction.
The world of Basic Glitches is dynamic and layered. The candy-colored sonic palette of shimmering synths and dirty beats houses lyrics that are often quirky– but also often have teeth. You might start listening to Basic Glitches for the grooves. You’ll likely stay for the soul-searching reflections on what it means to truly grow up.