by Alexandra Hall
This is not a “triumph of the human spirit” type album. I am not going to claim that this album will revolutionize your perspective on the chaotic world around us or grant you some sort of clarity that will change your life forever. Simply, Twenty Something Nightmare seizes the pressure of “the sophomore album” and transforms it into an irresistible energy.
I found Vista Kicks about three years ago through their first EP, “Babe”, a three song, simplistic debut with a charm. Although the release was a great starting point for the group, the Roseville rockers were merely getting their feet wet. In the past three years, Vista Kicks has released their infamous “Chasing Waves” EP which coined “Marceline” as their first hit, now pulling in over three million streams on Spotify, as well as two full length albums.
Their debut album, Booty Shakers Ball, comes in at a full 15 songs and a charming album cover reminiscent of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, with the members staring down into the rose-filtered lens with shaggy hair and neighboring palm trees. Like I said, Roseville rockers with a charm.
Although Booty Shakers Ball is a pretty groovy album with fun beats and elastic chords, Vista Kicks’ second full length album, Twenty Something Nightmare, stands as their most sophisticated release to date.
Right off the bat, Vista Kicks introduces the audience to a humorous and vibrant criticism of the music industry. “Million Dollar Seller, Pt. 1” pokes fun at the band’s inability to behave as they are supposed to and water their sound down in order to make more money. They ridicule the
“boss” and how he becomes a Christ-like figure worthy of worship. Fame and fortune are characterized by “all you can eat apple pie” and is repeated consistently throughout the song, musing on the image of hungry musicians looking for that final, unworried promise.
That’s just the first song.
From then on, Vista Kicks slows the mood down with songs like “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Victim of the Times”, talking about themes of love and loneliness in the grand span of roughly six minutes. You go from thinking about someone special and what you would be without them, to being reminded that you’re really alone in all of this and you’re desperately trying to be the best version of yourself. Sound like a lot? Sure, but all the songs are head-bangable.
The album picks up the slack and plunges the listener into a handful of upbeat tunes that all seem to melt together. Roughly midway through the album, “Numbers” makes its appearance and entrances me every single time. From the first time I heard it live back in March when Vista Kicks opened for Bad Suns, I’ve been obsessed with “Numbers”. From the teasing introduction to the bass drop that falls harder than any EDM song in existence (don’t even get me started), “Numbers” has a class to it I’ve yet to experience in any other indie rock bands of the time. With the piano riff, pitchy chorus, and heavy beat, the song represents how far Vista Kicks have come in only three years, making their music go from “catchy and cute” to a force to be reckoned with. “Numbers” also includes an interlude that features a skit that carries on throughout the album. You’re a fool if you think I’m going to comment on any more of that. You’ve just got to hear it.
The cover for Twenty Something Nightmare features all members in the band with closeup shots of each that mimic mugshots. There are red highlighted features of each member yelling at the camera included near the edges of the cover as well. There is a hidden story behind the cover art and the randomly arranged pictures.
Sam Plecker, guitarist of Vista Kicks, recalled the story of the group getting arrested in Ensenada, Mexico after being drunk in public.
“We were basically drunk in public and targets to the police. They actually pocketed all of our loose cash — just got taken advantage of for being drunk, dumb, and young tourists.”
Vista Kicks attempted to retrieve the pictures from the initial arrest but failed, resorting to Davis Ayer, Los Angeles photographer, who used the same Polaroid film that used to be used for 1970’s DMV shots in order to create the album cover in all of its nostalgic, grimy glory.
But why the skits, the layers, the Easter Eggs, the intricate cover, and the length? Is there some grand message to the complicated release?
Sam Plecker, guitarist of Vista Kicks replied with, “Not really — we weren’t trying to go for any certain type of thing in Twenty Something Nightmare. I think the songs are just a snapshot of where we are as four young adults. When making a record, our first priority is us being happy and the music speaking to us as songwriters.”
I’ve listened to Twenty Something Nightmare probably sixty times over in the car, most of the time without consciously making the decision to do so, and it is still not old. I know the tracks in association with their track number that barely glows with decaying, orange light in my old car. There is still a vibrance that continually attracts me to listen to the same songs over and over again, forcing anyone in my car to hear that first bass drop in “Numbers” as many times as it takes to experience its glory. I fall back into its trap every car ride, always coming up with a new discovery. It is timeless.
I see no limit for Vista Kicks, seeing as though they are guest opening for The Rolling Stones on August 18th in Santa Clara. You heard that right. In only a few years, Vista Kicks has worked their way up to the top and will soon re-define what musical success truly is. These dynamic, charismatic musicians are committed to their sound and are headed straight to the top.
Because remember, there’s “all you can eat apple pie” up there.
Until next time,