The beauty of ‘Teen Love’

No Trend - Teen Love

It starts off innocently enough. A simmering bass line commences, followed by a mid-tempo drum beat and some leads that could almost have come from a Byrds record. But as soon as the lead singer Jeff Mentges begins to talk – and not sing – over the din, you known you’re in for something way different.

 

The record is “Teen Love” by the Maryland hardcore band No Trend, which achieved a degree of cult popularity in the early 1980s. Released in the heyday of MTV ascension, “Teen Love” spit in the face of mass media-induced conformity with its deadpan dissection of youth culture.

 

“They met during social interaction in Algebra class,” the song begins. “She was expressionless at first, but then smiled to indicate submission. He rearranged his facial features to appear friendly.”

 

This is the tone Mentges takes and it’s both hilarious and a bit disconcerting. The song goes on to skewer just about every facet of teen culture then wraps up with a gruesome ending right of all those “teen tragedy” song from the early 1960s.

 

“Teen Love” is hardcore in attitude more than sound (except for the hyped-up middle section). The song was the highlight of the band’s debut release, a four-song EP, released in 1983 on the band’s own label. The EP’s other three songs are pretty decent hardcore rave-ups, so it’s worth tracking down on vinyl. No Trend went on to record until 1988, eventually moving to Touch & Go Records.

 

“Teen Love” was no doubt more popular in my neck of the woods because there area I lived as a teen was two towns down from where No Trend was from – Ashton, Md. – and the song got a lot of play on the local alternative radio station. At the time Ashton was a tiny, rural area (it’s since been built up), and I remember being surprised the band wasn’t from L.A. or D.C. (the two hardcore hubs of the early 1980s).

 

The only other thing I should mention is that my then-girlfriend found this song, like, totally offensive and really hated the ending. She used to threaten to leave whenever I would break out the EP. So there you have it: “Teen Love” almost ruined my teen love. What better recommendation could you want?

 

No Trend’s “Teen Love” can be found on Teen Beat Records’ “Teen Love: The Early Years.” Hear it on YouTube.