What is punk without anger or angst? Ten Foot Pole has been around for decades and the anger seems to have gone away. Instead of shouting against others, their new album Escalating Quickly takes time to examine their own problems. The resulting tone is refreshing in a way, but lacks the sense of urgency that would usually be expected from a punk album. Exploring their own experience and its effects, Ten Foot Pole’s newest release is surprisingly calm and thought out. The conclusion is that maybe they are the cause of their own problems, but at least there is hope that these mistakes can be learned from if you’re willing to listen.
Escalating Quickly begins with a heavy dose of irony. The songs are quick, light, and seemingly happy as they remind you that all good things end and to not be a dick. The songs try to teach rather than mindlessly yelling out against their problems. Offering helpful advice, the beginning sounds cheerful. The quick tempo of the beginning doesn’t hold through the entire album. The pace slows as more time is given to think over the themes of life problems. The subject of the songs are heavy topics. It just takes a while for the pace of the tracks to reflect the themes of the album.
Ten Foot Pole has experienced a lot and hopes that you can learn from them. Always trying to teach, the songs rarely point to others for problems. The closest it comes is in “The Jackals” in which the problem is not some other but rather who makes that other person act that way. The reality the album dives into is difficult. A lot has gone wrong and any reminders of this are painful. Yet, there is no running from these reminders. The album takes time to reflect and comes across more sad than angry about the troubles. In its optimism, there is usually some lesson to be learned from these experiences. Escalating Quickly wants to help the listener do better.
The tracks are catchy with their simple, repetitive lyrics. Though easy to pick up, few are memorable. Despite the unexceptional quality of the songs as individual listens, there is a power in listening to Escalating Quickly through its entirety. The tempo slows giving more power to reflection of each song. When its anger finally reveals itself in “Unbroken,” there is purpose to it. It is not simply raging against the world. “Goodbye Sunny Days” ends the album with a simple, acoustic guitar under the vocals and other instrumentation that gives a finality to the album. The problems seem not to go away and all that is left is to say goodbye to any sort of hoped for happiness.