The first album by the reformed Adolescents (the group had split after their 1981 debut) finds most of the original band reunited, with the exception of Alfie Agnew standing in for his brother Frank Agnew on second guitar, behind singer Tony Cadena and lead guitarist/primary songwriter Rikk Agnew. Much had changed on the hardcore scene since the band's 1982 split, however, and Brats in Battalions finds the group foundering a bit as they try to decide which of the several available fragmentary mini-genres they slot into best: Queers/Descendents-style pop/punk, Redd Kross-style sarcastic power pop, Social Distortion-like Americana, Suicidal Tendencies-like punk metal? All are tried on, and while most of them suit the band fine, none of them are exactly right. Interestingly, the best tracks are the Flamin Groovies-inspired raucous covers of the proto-punk classics "I Got a Right," and a "House of the Rising Sun" that turns the Animals' version of the song into a grinding howl of post-hardcore energy. (Unfortunately for fans of punk covers of British Invasion classics, "Do the Freddie" is a clattering, seemingly half-finished original, not the Freddie and the Dreamers theme song). The Adolescents, and their later incarnation, ADZ would make this style of punk-infused pop covers a band specialty over their following albums, but those records would also find the group focusing their own creative energies to a greater effect.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason