There is something about Brooklyn that nurtures the nostalgic. Whether it be a proclivity towards second-hand clothing or an expensive obsession with vinyl, residents of Brooklyn have a gift for capitalizing on old ideas to create something young and exciting. Music is no exception, which is one reason that the area fosters so much creativity–and competition. In less than four years, Brooklyn-based group TEEN has managed to defy the odds, land a record deal, and generate an undeniable buzz by converting classic pop into something newfangled and undeniably cool.
TEEN Seek Maturity on Sophomore Album
By Kari Belsheim
TEEN officially formed in 2010. Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson, veteran of Here We Go Magic, combined her romantic vocals with Lizzie Lieberson’s mainstay synth hooks and Katherine Lieberson’s agile drumming. The three–you guessed it–sisters recently added Boshra AlSaadi’s intuitive basslines to the mix. In 2012, TEEN’s mind-melding and indulgent psychedelic pop was picked up by Carpark Records with whom they released their first full-length album, In Limbo.
In Limbo is a play on classic girl-pop à la The Ronettes, but this slab of sound is permeated by more sinister undercurrents. The psychedelic dreampop element is intoxicating and allows for the listener to revel in the sound without getting lost in superfluous details. To put it simply: the album feels like a genuinely effortless collaboration. It is stylish without being pretentious and very catchy. Unsurprisingly, In Limbo was produced by Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3 fame. It garnered plenty of attention from local and international press who could not help but notice the band’s momentum in the indie scene.
“Better,” which Rolling Stone listed as one of the “50 Best Songs of 2012,” exemplifies some of the most alluring aspects of TEEN’s first album. Saturated with euphoria-inducing eighties’ synth, the track remains thoroughly modern. Furthermore, the music video features scenes from Quicksilver, which I believe puts TEEN only one degree from Kevin Bacon. With “Electric,” the band shows its ability to play with dissonance and maintain a consistent line. From start to finish the album remains a coherent, if sprawling, dreamscape.
Now, it seems the all-girl group is coming-of-age into a more nuanced sound, grounded in nineties’ R&B. Their new album, The Way and Color, drops April 22nd with Carpark. It was produced by Daniel Schlett (the mixer of DIIV’s first record), and shows the band’s serious evolution into a more elaborate creative vision and sound.
The bedrock is the same, but Teeny’s vocals are more soulful and warm; Boshra’s nimble basslines drive the songs forward, and everything feels lighter and more groovy. Based on the tracks that have already been released, the album will reward close listening; the minutia of each instrumental line will reveal TEEN’s technical skill and the album’s ultimate artistic value.
The single “Tied Up and Tied Down” showcases their newfound agility as the band plays intricately with every element down to the drums. They also recently released a video for “Not for Long,” which features unnerving and fantastic artwork by Roland von Tessin. The band is obviously confident in this new direction which bodes well for the rest of the album.
TEEN will be touring the southwest this month alongside Phantogram and they’re celebrating the release of The Way and Color at Brooklyn’s own Baby’s All Right on the 24th. Tickets are available through Rukkus!