Generally, adding a calendar year doesn’t produce any noticeable differences. December 2014 was unremarkable compared to January 2015; the world hadn’t changed in any real way. This is a natural feature of time. It happens so quickly and so slowly that it often goes by unnoticed by all who participate in it by existing, which is why you only really notice time when you’re waiting for something.
I suppose this is what makes TEEN such an interesting band and third lp for Carpark Records, Love Yes such an interesting album. It is caught somewhere in time, as if nothing has really changed, or everything has changed. The friction between these two truths creates a stasis, appropriate for a band that named themselves after the awkward stage of human development when you experience the most change and become the person you will be for the rest of your life.
TEEN’s sound is a happy mélange of early new wave and late electronic pop, drawing upon a variety of inspirations and borrowed nostalgia for a time that seemingly doesn’t exist yet. It is simultaneously one of the best albums of 1984, 1997, 2003 and 2010. TEEN is the child of Animotion and Air, New Order and LCD Soundsystem (who should seriously consider them as touring mates if they get around to doing a full tour).
When I began listening to Love Yes, it was the perfectly-produced, well-written-songs that belong in the magisterial realm of heady pop tunes on par with those aforementioned bands that first caught me. Many of the songs are just simply fun to listen to: “Free Time,” “Tokyo,” “All About Us,” all aim just as much to entertain as engage, performing a balancing act between serious and enjoyable. That kind of music that we rock critics love to love because we get to chew on bubblegum without the sensation that we are dumbing ourselves down. “This is art,” we can say.
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One cannot say enough that TEEN pays attention to their music in ways many bands do not, and that’s often the only line that separates the great artists from the shit. Take a song like “Another Man’s Woman” that wisely moves through stages instead of simply oscillating between verse and chorus. They do not take the easy way out, and it shows. Or album closer “Push” whose melody deserves to be compared against Joni Mitchell’s best with lead singer, Teeny Lieberson’s voice doing her best to make it original instead of some cheap rip-off. And succeeding. Or “Example,” which is something else completely, the chorus of which is something unlike anything I’ve heard recently or can place my finger on.
Love Yes is the perfect blend of inspiration and declaration, caught in the old, the not yet new, and the could-be. Love Yes is an album searching for an age, hoping that 2016 was the right time and place to arrive. Only time will tell if it was.
Article: Christopher Gilson