Thursday, April 17, 2008

Teenagers – real vs. fake

Today’s conundrum – which teenagers? We have two sets – one real (sort of) and one fake for your consideration today. One even uses the word in their name. But which set, if any, is worth your time and money?

The first lot are the real ones, or at least they used to be until very recently. When Be Your Own Pet burst onto the scene two years ago, it was all frenetic teenage energy, attitude and a good few decent tunes to back it up. This time round, most of them have slowly crept out of their teens, with only drummer John Eatherly still able to be officially called a teenager. And it’s this very issue which seems to have inspired the whole album. Growing up is not always easy, and this much is clear right from first song Super Soaked when Jemima Pearl snarls “I don’t wanna grow up and have to let go” and by the time she gets to screaming “Don't wanna have responsibility! Don't wanna be a part of society” she’s already pissed off and the album’s hardly a minute old.

And so on, through songs about wild teenage parties, food fights, school murders and bastard boyfriends and the usual high school fayre. It’s all prolonged teenage angst bundled up in supercharged, shouty pop punk in two-minute packages. There’s nothing groundbreaking (this sort of music never is) and it’s all pretty ephemeral stuff but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, and is guaranteed to blast away any musical mustiness in your brain. As you’d expect it’s best experienced live with Pearl a hyped-up blur on the stage while her bandmates throw all the necessary teen-punk shapes and the real teenagers in the crowd go nuts. People like me stand at the back, observing the spectacle, and like Be Your Own Pet, wish we were younger.

Download: Be Your Own Pet – Becky
Download: Be Your Own Pet – Twisted Nerve

Buy Get Awkward from Rough Trade or download from emusic.

The next lot are the fakes, because even though they’re called The Teenagers, they’re all at least in their mid 20s. Who knows, maybe it’s the whole don’t-want-to-grow-up thing that makes this French trio give themselves such a name. Their lyrics, in all their juvenile puerility are certainly only worthy of a teenager. As for the music, it’s very average electro-guitar-pop, which would probably have as much mainstream appeal as the Wombats or the Pigeon Detectives if it weren’t for these naughty lyrics.

Speaking of which, surely it’s because The Teenagers are French and therefore inherently more cultured and sophisticated that they’re getting any sort of attention at all. If it was a pasty-faced bunch of boys from the home counties playing this sort of music, they’d be ignored (we already have I Was a Cub Scout), and if it were a gang of shaven-headed northern oiks singing these lyrics, they’d be dismissed as sleazy pervs. But somehow the French factor makes them more acceptable. Who knows? It’s not like they’re terrible, they’re just not very good, and certainly nowhere near deserving of the hype they’ve been given. But no need to complain, that’s just the music business for you, eh?

Download: The Teenagers – Starlett Johansson
Download: The Teenagers – French Kiss

If you really must, you can buy Reality Check from Rough Trade. Maybe though, you'd be better off with these Teenagers.


Andrew said...

hey! please check out my Remix of Starlett Johansson by The Teenagers.

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