Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Tones and I – The Kids Are Coming

…to take back everything the boomers stole…


Iain Mew: Taking on the olds with a combination of youthful energy and possibility and an undercurrent of menace isn’t a bad idea, and there’s plenty of material Tones and I could draw on for the conflict. Her old fogey strawman starting with kids these days and their “millennium items” gestures towards that. However, for a song which moves on to kidnapping as an alternative to marching, it’s remarkably toothless, chiefly thanks to a cowardly lack of specificity. “We don’t just protest for fun” — so why do you then? The song offers no answer. The cover art with its rainbow flag and anti-gun symbol and even its vegan sign offers some possibilities which would have all seemed less cynically empty. As it is, the beat is toned down Billie Eilish and the message is toned down Billie Piper.

Alfred Soto: The feyly articulated repetitions, theatrical harmonies, and finger snaps suggest a record company’s attempt to repeat The Billie Eilish Experience. This Australian act projects adult fear of a generation it can’t resist branding with a letter or a polite response by a member of this generation. Who can tell? Does it matter?

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: kidz bop black skinhead type beat

Kayla Beardslee: Cool, sure, make young activists sound like cartoonish movie villains, that’s great and not counterproductive at all. On a musical level, I have the exact same problems with this as I did “Dance Monkey”: three minutes long, yet nothing important actually happens. There’s the same blue-balling for a potential drop, the same hellishly affected indie-girl voice, the same sparse production that suggests a rush job more than any intentional playing with empty space — the horns are nice, I guess, but the song as a whole is just so thin and unconvincing. At a bare minimum, “The Kids Are Coming” earns a couple points for good intent, but loses so many more for frustratingly uninspiring execution.

Ian Mathers: I suspect the political (or quasi-political) content here is well meaning yet dumb as hell, but I can’t be 100% sure because I still hate her goddamn voice so, so much and being subjected to it in an even more leaden, plodding environment than her last song isn’t helping.

Kylo Nocom: It was only a matter of time before the Build-a-Billie committee threw “Triumph of a Heart” and “Thumbs” into a blender to see what would be spit out.

Katherine St Asaph: The kids have abdicated good taste, which in 2019 means abdicating chill and shiny for that one Gary Glitter song via “Personal Jesus” via “Black Skinhead” via “Thumbs.” So obviously “The Kids are Coming” sounds great, and is if anything more relentless, more thwacking than it had to be. Of course, the thing has words. “We won’t be bought” is predictably rich from the follow-up to a major-label breakout single. The spoken-word elder brought in for Tones to schaffel all over has an olde-radio affect that sounds more Silent Generation than the boomers this is OK-ing. And the outcome of all the running and gunning — perhaps self-censoring, aware of where kids these days fall on the topic of gunning — is the Olds meeting the terrifying end of being locked in the basement. When Billie Eilish buried a friend, she didn’t mean in a box of old winter coats. Nevertheless, this makes a good three-quarters of the Hot 100 sound blase and sleep-deprived; I will seldom be upset with pop for going huge.

Scott Mildenhall: Trusty genius.com relates that Tones and I has provided them with “verified commentary” for this song, but it’s a shame that she couldn’t do the same for its listeners. That her takes are glib isn’t a crime, and nor is that they are presented with undue gravity — bottomlessly depthless and emptily weighty are two of the paradoxes of perfect pop — but what jars is that they don’t sound like they come from someone with much of an affinity for their sentiment. It is very hard to believe that Tones and I genuinely feels that something as vague as “no-one seems to understand… why we live this way” gets to the heart of any particular truth, or is anything but a semantic mystery. Perhaps part of the problem is that she seems intent on making all of her songs so messy, forgoing tight lyricism for an over-reliance on surprising noises. Unfortunately, the loudest noise lands with a thud: a person falling off a bandwagon without ever making it on board.

Jonathan Bradley: When I was fifteen, Silverchair released its inspiring and rebellious generational call-to-arms “Anthem for the Year 2000,” and I really tried to get into the spirit. Like, yeah, us kids are gonna make it up to you in the year 2000 or something! Tones and I has drab dance beats instead of drab post-grunge riffing, but two decades have passed and Australia’s kids are as corny as ever. There’s also a bit about guns, which is weird, because Port Arthur and the ensuing gun control legislation took place in the decade before this singer was born. (It’s not as if we don’t still have too many guns in this country or there are not far-right forces aiming to weaken prohibitions on firearms, but youth here over the past couple decades has not been intertwined with random irruptions of gun violence the way it has in other parts of the world.) It’s another way “The Kids are Coming” hopes to speak boldly without saying anything bold.

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