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 â€“ and not sing â€“ over the din, you known youâ€™re in for something way different.
The record is â€œTeen Loveâ€ 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, â€œTeen Loveâ€ spit in the face of mass media-induced conformity with its deadpan dissection of youth culture.
â€œThey met during social interaction in Algebra class,â€ the song begins. â€œShe was expressionless at first, but then smiled to indicate submission. He rearranged his facial features to appear friendly.â€
This is the tone Mentges takes and itâ€™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 â€œteen tragedyâ€ song from the early 1960s.
â€œTeen Loveâ€ is hardcore in attitude more than sound (except for the hyped-up middle section). The song was the highlight of the bandâ€™s debut release, a four-song EP, released in 1983 on the bandâ€™s own label. The EPâ€™s other three songs are pretty decent hardcore rave-ups, so itâ€™s worth tracking down on vinyl. No Trend went on to record until 1988, eventually moving to Touch & Go Records.
â€œTeen Loveâ€ 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 â€“ Ashton, Md. â€“ and the song got a lot of play on the local alternative radio station. At the time Ashton was a tiny, rural area (itâ€™s since been built up), and I remember being surprised the band wasnâ€™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: â€œTeen Loveâ€ almost ruined my teen love. What better recommendation could you want?
No Trendâ€™s â€œTeen Loveâ€ can be found on Teen Beat Recordsâ€™ â€œTeen Love: The Early Years.â€ Hear it on YouTube.