Lil Huddy’s surprisingly strong debut ‘Teenage Heartbreak’ still struggles to revive emo rock

Photo of Lil Huddy album cover
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Grade: 2.5/5.0

Better known as Lil Huddy to his millions of TikTok followers and Spotify listeners, Internet heartthrob Chase Hudson brought early 2000s emo rock to 2021 with his debut Teenage Heartbreak, an LP that can be summed up by a single line from track four: “I blame it on my adolescence.” While many of the songs feel repetitive and cookiecutter, the 19 year old does speak to the hardships of growing up under society’s microscopic lens. With his surprisingly powerful vocals and catchy hooks, it’s no doubt that some tracks are made-for-radio hits.

Since Hudson’s rise to fame on the lip-syncing social media platform musical.ly in 2016, the release of the star’s first album has been long anticipated by his diehard fans. Recently, many have speculated that top social influencers will jump on the music-making bandwagon the second they realize it is lucrative — regardless of whether they have the talent to back it up or not. As Hudson teased snippets from his record on TikTok for months on end, some grew skeptical of his music’s quality, largely due to these cynical perceptions about money-hungry online creators. With Teenage Heartbreak, however, Lil Huddy proves that he is not one of these autotune-reliant artists: Instead, he has both genuine talent and passion to help support his music climbing to the top of the charts.

The album opens with the punchy title track that instantly snaps listeners into an emo rock world reminiscent of My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco, calling back to gothic high school culture circa 2005 as an instant time machine. The opener’s unique pizazz of the opening song may charm audiences upon first listen, but this charm dissipates as it becomes clear that half of the LP’s tracks are nearly identical in backing track and overall musicality. The novelty of Teenage Heartbreak quickly wears off as soon as similar songs such as “Partycrasher,” “IDC” and “Headlock” come into rotation, blending together to feel like one long generic punk track that’s bland in both content and melody.

If listeners can overlook comically cheesy lyrics such as “Every time I look at our photos, my broken heart gets bulldozed” or “Now you’re dead to me, and it’s R.I.P.,” Hudson can be commended for his slower ballads where he finally takes a moment to be vulnerable and honest with his audience. He sings, “I’m not evil but my love is lethal” and “I don’t want to be alone no more,” coming through with not only powerful vocals packed with emotional weight but an enticing reverb echo that perfectly compliments his voice.

There are several songs from Teenage Heartbreak with catchy melodies that Hudson has used to his advantage, pushing them as viral audios on TikTok. “Don’t Freak Out,” for instance, featuring Travis Barker, Iann Dior and Tyson Ritter bounces between a slower and faster-paced beat and vocal pairing, interspersed with minor rap segments to keep it musically captivating and to give it an earworm quality. What really adds spice to the album is some of the explicit lyrics that market toward a more adult audience — a quality not shocking but certainly unexpected from Lil Huddy in his debut work. The 19 year old boldly sings about nude women, drinking and smoking without shame, giving his album the edge necessary to keep his primarily teenage audience intrigued.

With his undoubtedly solid debut record, Hudson has certainly earned himself a spot on the list of modern emo rockers. Especially after the raging support from his newfound punk cult following desperate for the genre’s revival, it will be exciting to see what Lil Huddy’s next project looks like.

Contact Chloe Forssell at [email protected].