Nestor – Teenage Rebel Review

Ever fall in love with something you feel guilty about liking? Maybe it’s tuna fish mixed with peanut butter, or hot sauce in your pricey single malt scotch. Whatever the kink, it can hurt to be different sometimes. Steel knows the sting of a guilty pleasure keenly, and that exquisite pain comes via Swedish retro 80s rockers Nestor and their second album Teenage Rebel. Forged in the flames of 80s radio rock like Survivor, Journey and early Michael Bolton, Nestor dwells in that small catchy space where acts like The Night Flight Orchestra and Captain Blackbeard call home, forever searching for that next huge chorus. I enjoyed their 2021 debut Kids in a Ghost Town far more than I was comfortable with,1 yet I refrained from reviewing it, but with Teenage Rebel, there’s no more holding back. This shit is more infectious than Turbo Covid and more fun than a free hobo wine kiosk at an 80s-themed metalfest. It’s stadium AOR rock for the young at heart and the hooks are real and disgustingly clingy like your ex. I hate loving it, but I do and the shame is almost too much to bear. Now you must share in it because misery loves company.

This is an easy album to describe. It’s one catchy, cheesy, cringey 80s radio rock gem after another by a band that really want to be Survivor whenever they’re not trying to be Journey or Bon Jovi. The rocket ride to the past begins with a very cool, interesting intro piece called “The Law of Jante” where the Scandanavia rules against individualism are read out and then promptly spat upon in the name of youthful rebellion. From there we plunge right into the hits with the irresistible pop magic of “We Come Alive” where the bombast of Metal Loaf meets the slick pop sensibilities of prime Journey and you will grudgingly love the result. The soundbites from Ronald Reagan only cement the time stamp and add to the charm. The title track is a bit more “metal,” sounding like Y&T hawking a prom-friendly product and damn it, it works! This is every bit as dumb as Nickelback’s “Photograph” but it’s just so likable! Album standout “Victorious” has been stuck in heavy rotation for weeks and Madam X is considering a restraining order, but I can’t let it go. It belongs on the soundtrack of Rocky III AND IV and that’s just how it is!

Anthem after anthem rolls by with hooks that cling tighter than neoprene. “Caroline” is an instant earworm, and “The One That Got Away” is so fucking sappy and sentimental but somehow still holds you in thrall. “Addicted to Love” is like the early days of Bon Jovi and just as insipid, but it still works. The closing mega-ballad “Daughter” jumps the focus from rebellious kids to daughter dads and brings the feelz with lyrics about that special bond between father and daughter and the bittersweet experience of seeing a child grow up. The album’s 43 minutes slip by effortlessly and it’s as easy to digest as cotton candy and just as likely to give you Diabetes. That’s not a bug, but a feature, and you embraced it when you pressed play.

Tobias Gustavsson is a vocal chameleon, becoming whomever he needs to be to sell the songs. One minute he’s Michael Bolton, the next Bon Jovi, and then Steve Perry or Survivor’s Dave Bickler. He’s got an insidious ability to mimic 80s radio rock idioms and trigger nostalgia bombs in those of us who lived through those times. He’s a master at this kind of nonsense and I salute him for it. Johnny Wemmenstedt is equally adept at 80s rock guitar work and knows exactly when to come forward and duck out, leaving a lot of room for the big, cheese-filled keys and synths courtesy of Martin Frejinger. The band seems like a bunch of lifelong friends who play down at the local bar for shits and giggles, but they’re cold, calculating songwriting assassins who will cut your ears off and mail them to the younger version of you. The whole album is a goddamn delight and a wonderful palate cleanser too.

Yeah, this one hurts. I always enjoyed The Night Flight Orchestra, but I didn’t see myself as the demographic for the kind of shameless 80s pop rock claptrap Nestor lives for. Turns out I’m that guy. Steel must be getting soft in his advancing ape age. Get this album and become the Teenage Rebel you once were before you’re too damn olde.

Rating: 3.5/5.02
DR: NA | Format Reviewed: STREAM
Label: Napalm
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 31st, 2024

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Lead single “On the Run” is impossible to forget once heard.
  2. Yes, I just gave THIS a 3.5 and only gave Judas Priest a 3.0!
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