[Album Review] Coping Skills Use Truth-Bearing Pop with “Worst New Music”

By: Hope Ankney

Imagine an album chalked full of relatable content, mental health blues, millennial struggles, the ever so pretentious softboy, and the exhaustion of dealing with Capitalism everywhere you turn. Wouldn’t that be the perfect #mood record to flip on anytime you’re dealing with the next art boy trying to turn a sidewalk crack into poetry to impress you or there’s only $8.00 left in your bank account and you gotta make it last until Friday? Imagine how many times you’d listen to the rambling lyrics and quietly say “Me” anytime anything remotely relatable was sang. Well, imagine no more! Such an album now exists and it’s only available through Philadelphia-based duo Coping Skills.

Worst New Music, the sophomore effort to the ever-so-charming, non-binary, ironic punk duo Coping Skills houses all of those issues and more in just 12 tracks. As you find yourself sifting through the record, you’ll come to recognize what’s made this overly-aware and modest group a general favorite. Is it lo-fi, indie pop? Is it moody punk? Is it just millennial jargon that every person over 35 needs an explanation for? What if it’s a mashup of all three? In a personal description, Coping Skills second release is an incredibly ironic, truth-bearing, millennial wasteland of downer pop (in the absolute best way) that uses its melodies and instruments to create an endearing and moving storyline of modern struggles and self-deprecating humor.

 

This isn’t the first time that Coping Skills have shown their talent for writing great tunes for 21st century issues. Their debut album, Relatable Web Content, focused around dealing with absurd college debt. It’s their schtick and they’re ridiculously good at it. Rachel Dispenza and Lauren Delucca have centered their musical branding around committing to a part and being enthralled with the joke. It’s an endlessly fascinating way to garner attention and build notoriety for distinction in the scene, and it’s actually working. Especially with Worst New Music you see the duo embrace the post-millennial rot and “fake-deep” image that many artists try to dismiss, and by doing that, the record comes across more endearing, clever, and genuine in its various meanings. The act of becoming the very embodiment of what so many try to hide about themselves but look for in others is a genius marketing scheme that ties more people to their music and presence.

The album features simplistic musicality in favor of highlighting the lyrical content and unrefined vocals of both Dispenza and Delucca. It feels as though the bulk of the record was written while lying on the bedroom floor, strumming the guitar, and ranting about the day’s pint-up frustration in melody form. You feel included in this, almost like you’re lying on the bed reinforcing the process as they trail off about how much life and money and mental health can suck.

Do you treat your body like garbage? There’s a song for that. Do you hate your job but know you must go to get paid? There’s a song for that. Do you always find yourself being selfish in nature over everything? There’s a song for that. Do you ever think about how difficult some seem to think being a decent person is? There’s a song for that. You broke? Need five bucks? Having your mental health affect both you and your relationships? There’s songs for that. Has your cat ever woke you up coughing on the floor? There’s even a song for that.

 

With various themes and situations in between, it’s nearly impossible to not find at least one song to connect to and jam at any little inconvenience you experience. Regarding the album’s name, they explained, “Calling it Worst New Music is about being comfortable enough in our own strengths and insecurities that it makes it impossible for others to use them against us. Any criticism we might get, we’ve probably already said about ourselves. The most important opinions about an artist’s music should always be their own.”

Coping Skills’ ability to welcome in their own strengths and insecurities is what has made them and their talent nearly bulletproof. As relatable and self-aware Worst New Music is, it also serves as a traveling vessel for a new type of discussion around music. It’s honing in on the platform that the industry and music journalists have when it comes to persuading someone to listen to an artist’s work. It effects not only the listener’s perspective but the band itself. By opening this kind of conversation, it creates a deeper purpose for the record. Instead of it just being something to flip on at any of life’s troubles, no matter how big or small, it serves as an album open and willing to explore music politics. For that, Coping Skills and Worst New Music should be a staple in your music collection.

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