For a lot of bands, a new album is an opportunity to express their musical breadth and experiment with something new. I can’t even remember how many reviews I’ve read that lingered on how much a band has “matured” and “pushed their boundaries” in a given album. There are bands like that, and then there’s No Parents. Whether it’s their Facebook “about” section describing frontman Zoe Reign as a Homo erectus preserved for centuries in “a gigantic slab of dank resin,” their fantastically sketchy band website, or their gleefully irreverent new EP Still Thirsty, No Parents goes beyond immaturity into the realm of pure uncontrolled stoner absurdity. With deep roots in Los Angeles’ DIY punk scene, No Parents started out playing house parties and tiny shows throughout southern California after Zoe Reign and guitarist Ryan McGuffin met at a party and (after immediately assuming they’d hate each other) became fast friends. From these humble roots, No Parents have been remarkably prolific, releasing five albums since 2014’s May the Thirst Be With You. Their newest offering, Still Thirsty, gives us more of the uncomplicated, raucous guitar and deranged vocals that we’ve come to know and love. Despite their close relationship with LA surf-punk bands like together PANGEA and FIDLAR, No Parents’ sound is much more reminiscent of classic California punk band the Descendents, with short punchy songs drowning in noise and childish attitude.
The album starts off strong with “Hunting in Huntington,” a frantic jab at California beach culture that highlights Reign’s deranged vocals and McGuffin’s explosive guitar work. Clocking in at two minutes and thirty two seconds, it’s a marathon for No Parents, who once released a 32 song album in which all but three songs were less than one minute long. “Hunting in Huntington,” true to its DIY garage roots, is structurally quite simple but infectious. Bassist Killian LeDuke and drummer Monte Najera provide a solid, energetic foundation for McGuffin’s rapidfire guitar and Reign’s abrasive, mocking singing.
No Parents’ self-effacing streak shines through clearest on “Best Song.” Satirizing both No Parents’ own habitual self sabotage and the inflated self-importance of bands seeking to create “something inspirational,” the song exudes the same pointed mockery as earlier works like their single “Die Hippie Die.” As always, No Parents’ sheer bombast is one of the primary selling points. Tapping into punk rock’s long history of rampant, almost farcical self-deprecation, it’s often difficult to even distinguish what’s serious and what’s ironic. Musically, LeDuke’s bass dominates the track, complimenting Najera’s cymbal heavy drum work and sparse, vaguely threatening guitar from McGuffin.
On the same note, “Two Beers” starts wrapping up the album with a take on adult life straight out of their earlier EPs. The song bounces wildly between humor (the off-time chorus of “Beers! Friends! Mutual Friends! More Beers!” is particularly egregious) and nostalgia for youthful stupidity. No Parents’ aren’t reaching for the stars, and they have no intention of changing that. They perfectly capture the sort of loose, shortsighted excess that made punk great in the first place. Videos like the one for “Hey Grandma” aren’t trying to be art, they’re just examples of a band having fun making music. There’s obviously a place for music that’s contemplative and innovative, but there’s also a time for songs that are just stupid and fun, and that’s where No Parents has no equal.