A person isn't characterized by change itself, but rather the way in which they adapt to it. So too, is the case with Teen Agers. The Orlando, FL quartet has dealt with the whole gamut – new careers, cities, members, writing styles, and devastating loss. It's this struggle with change and search for catharsis that characterizes Teen Agers' latest effort, When We Were. It's contemplative, urgent, reflective, and comfortable with the writhing in its own skin. Justin Goldman's flaws are fleshed out in almost real time as he contemplates every last one. He recalls "the album channels the feeling of loss, defeat, at times questioning your sanity and a yearning for yesterday rather than our present problems."
Instrumentally, songs like "Jar Breaker" evoke a vague familiarity with Teen Agers of years past, but its contrasting lyrics leave the song firmly planted in darker territories we've yet to see the band inhabit. At its best, change can be enlightening. At its worst, destructive. When We Were is somehow both. The record documents Teen Agers' white-knuckle struggle to turn the latter into the former. A band in both organizational and personal turmoil entered the gauntlet in tatters and exited stronger versions of themselves, wearing their scars like badges (for better or for worse). When We Were is both a visceral documentation of Teen Agers' trudge through Hell and the product of it.