Album Review: “Deliberately Alive” by Future Teens

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Future Teens address heartbreak, nostalgia, and mental health in their new EP Deliberately Alive.

Pop-punk and emo music have been getting repopularized recently in mainstream media due to Olivia Rodrigo’s Good 4 U” and My Chemical Romance’s 2020 reunion. Future Teens, however, has been maintaining these subgenres’ relevancies in Boston since their first single, “Sleep Schedule,” in 2017. The band’s take on these subgenres involves a little more pop than punk, but just the same amount of emotion.

With their new EP Deliberately Alive, Future Teens—composed of Amy Hoffman and Daniel Radin on guitar and vocals, Colby Blauvelt on drums, and Maya Mortman on bass—continue singing about the angst ridden tropes so familiar to emo music. But they add themes of nostalgia and heartbreak throughout the five songs of this confessional EP. 

Separated Anxiety” sets the emo-inspired tone of Deliberately Alive with the opening lines of “found a good way to pass for fine,” pleadingly sung by Radin. This song touches on the difficulty of saying what you feel or actually mean—a theme common in other emo-pop songs such as Paramore’s “Fake Happy.” Rather than simply being redundant, Future Teens adds elements of heartache in “it’s not that leaving doesn’t hurt / but you’re the subject of that verb.”

The EP’s title and main theme is derived from the lines: “If I’m gonna be / somebody / deliberately alive / I want to do it right,” from “Guest Room.” In “Guest Room,” Future Teens sing about their personal struggles with depression and deliberate over which option is worse: dying young or facing their future. If they want to be alive, they want to do it right by seeking therapy and being less hard on themselves. But these two things are not as easy as they seem, and “only [work] some of the time,” as sung by Hoffman. 

In contrast to the introspective lyrics from the first two songs about life and love, “Play Cool” contains lyrics about what it is like for Radin and the other members of Future Teens to perform onstage. In lines such as “oh I wish I didn’t say that” and “from a distance we were still friends, ” the uncertainty of performing and their own personal relationships with the audience is apparent. 

“Bizarre Affection” begins with light, piano-like chords instead of the heavy downstrokes or reverberation on the guitar that created a rhythm characteristic to pop-punk music on the previous tracks. But like the other songs, this penultimate song of the EP touches upon anxiety with relationships. Sometimes, anxiety makes us cling onto memories. And in this song, regret mixes with nostalgia when Hoffman is trying “to forget about that night in Connecticut.”

Instead of keeping with the emo themes throughout their album by covering an Avril Lavigne or Mayday Parade song, the group opted to cover “Believe” by Cher to close their EP. By turning this love song into a duet, it sounds more aching, yet complete with the vocals of Radin and Hoffman together—an ending that leaves the listener longing for more from Future Teens. 

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