The Teenagers - Reality Check
There couldn't be a more apt name for a band that have all kinds of fun taking swipes at The OC generation but secretly, faced with only their ceiling at night, harbour the biggest crush on the most popular girl. French trio the Teenagers make no apologies for their obsession, establishing a codependent relationship on 'We are the Monkees'-aping anthem Feeling Better by claiming they'll be 'there for you when you're cold and alone'. Or, perhaps, when you're naked, sweaty and licking melted chocolate off the hottest two cheerleaders in school.
If you need a clearer encapsulation of what the Teenagers are about, look no further than Homecoming, last year's word-of-mouth single that is, like, so totally rad that nothing else on this album comes close to beating it. Juxtaposing two separate gender P.O.V.'s, it's an X-rated version of Summer Nights that you won't want to play too loudly if you still live with mommy - the 'c' word has a starring role - and perfectly deconstructs the timeline of a holiday 'romance'; in the space of three minutes, we go from the guy's casual 'On day two, I fucked her, and it was wild' to the girl's final plea 'Don't forget to send me a friend request!'. Beautiful.
The rest of the record tries to strike the same balance between puerile sleaze and wry observational humour. Starlett Johansson is the closest it comes, an amusing love letter that leaves the listener in no doubt that they want to give her more than just a pearl earring ('You don't believe in monogamy/I'm not jealous, Scarlett/Will you marry me?'). Ode to their hometown Streets of Paris is basically gritty french film La Haine given a synth-pop musical makeover, while tracks like Love No and Fuck Nicole (in which they immortalize an angsty and morally loose young girl who messaged them on MySpace) are songs that would feature on the next Killers album if Lovefoxx had a sex change and got even filthier. Unfortunately, it's when they attempt to make straight pop songs and, even worse, attempts at down-tempo stuff that their shortcomings are exposed: Make It Happen, Wheel of Fortune and End of the Road are inoffensively bland. Still, the unapologetically 'shock' lyrics wear thin by the time French Kiss tries to seduce us with a Dirty Dancing video and a parent-free house.
Still, Skins fans who survive on a ration of diet pills, vodka Red Bull and ketamine might, until something even cooler comes along, dump Death From Above and 'make love' while listening to the Teenagers instead. If you were sober enough to remember your first time, let me hijack those memories and term this debut the sonic version of the collective experience: it's not deep and meaningful, and not without its awkward fumbling moments, but the Teenager's initiation is fun while it lasts.