The Teenagers

Reality Check

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On their debut album Reality Check it quickly becomes clear that there are three things French trio the Teenagers firmly disbelieve in: subtlety, propriety, and variety. Let's break them down one at a time. Their sound is filled with clattering drums and drum machines, clanging guitars and huge choruses with shouted hooks. Like a raunchy (and very French) stadium rock band in miniature, they kick up a lot of noise and never stray from being completely obvious at all times. So far, no problems. Since some of the best rock & roll is completely unsubtle and obvious; we can't mark the Teenagers down for that. As for propriety, even for raunchy French pop, there are lines reasonable people wouldn't want to cross. Just kidding! Anything goes in French pop and the Teenagers make sure they make the most of it as they happily touch on having relations with step-cousins ("Homecoming"), lusting after Scarlett Johansson ("Starlett Johansson"), hating weird girls ("Fuck Nicole"), getting real, real mad at the girl who stole a Jazzmaster ("Sunset Beach"), and possibly worst of all, shameless self-promotion ("Feeling Better"). If you don't care about right and wrong, love mildly shocking lyrics, and despise Jeff Buckley, then you'll have no problem with the group's flaunting of decorum. The real problem with the album comes with the Teenagers' disregard for variety. Every now and then you run into an album where all the songs sound kind of the same -- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't -- on Reality Check every song sounds exactly the same. Singer Quentin Delafon talks through a verse as the music chugs along then the chorus kicks in and the music bursts into bright, sunny hooks. Without fail and without variation, the songs stack up one after the other like pink Legos. Even though the formula is a winning one (and sounds pretty thrilling in small doses), by the end of the album you feel like you were listening to one really long song. No amount of freewheeling smut can disguise the fatal lack of variety on Reality Check.

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