Girls Can Tell


Middle school dance, last chance for a kiss, DJ doing his part: “These songs have mad dance parts, so don’t let ’em go to waste.” For a minute, watching Kid Dynamite guitarist Dan Yemin give the pep talk midway through the band’s Four Years in One Gulp postmortem DVD, it seemed he’d been to the same parties as I, but then came the clarification, courtesy of vocalist Jason Shevchuk: “Yeah, they’re angry dance parts, so look out.”

Kid Dynamite predecessors Lifetime shared two members with their later incarnation—Dan Yemin and drummer Dave Wagenshutz—and their retrospective odds-‘n’-ends Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is angry too, though probably only danceable from the fetal position. “You” makes their emo-boy bind clear: “You took the best of her/When you had sex with her/You took the best of me/I trusted and you fucked me.”

When it hurts too bad, cut it off: Kid Dynamite perfected Lifetime’s unrequited love-as-violence-as–emotional hardcore template—Rites of Spring’s tragic rasp plus a Dag Nasty chorus, issued over Junkyard crossover-metal chugs—and made it a paradoxical farewell to the females who’d birthed the genre’s core subject matter, just by existing. Though Four Years does detail four years, there aren’t four females in its entire 90 minutes.

Swamps of Jersey features Lifetime’s own young mistake: yoking the pain of rejection to early-’90s one-word song titles (“Alive,” “Up”) and solid-state guitar tone. The mash-up didn’t work, for their sex life or otherwise, though the songs were better for trying; later, and included here, they’d cover post–Minor Threat therapy (Embrace’s “Money”) and Billy Bragg come-ons (“New England”) and realize, as on “Young, Loud, and Scotty,” that girls were just inevitable: “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do/Than have my heart broken by you.” No wonder they reunited last month.

Lifetime play the Bamboozle at Meadowlands Sports Complex May 7.