Tweens describe themselves as a band equally inspired by doo wop, girl group pop, and riot grrrl, but the Cincinnati group's self-titled debut reveals them to be a more standard issue -- but still entertaining -- punk-pop band. To be fair, there's more than a hint of Ronnie Spector to Bridget Battle's voice when she sings "Your sweetness is killin' me" on the former single "Be Mean." However, Battle's sassy vocals have more in common with Cyndi Lauper and Dale Bozzio, and several of Tweens' best moments recall how new wave artists in the '70s and '80s channeled '50s and '60s pop into an even more intense sugar rush. "Bored in This City," which opens the album with the lament "I'm too young to be this tired," sounds like a long-lost '80s classic; "Don't Wait Up" tempers Tweens' bursting impatience into a streamlined standout. It's apparent how much Battle's presence sparks the band's sound on closing track "Star Studder," where her commandingly throaty vocals shine, as well as on "Stoner," a pleasant but not especially distinctive instrumental. Even when Tweens aren't doing anything that out of the ordinary, as on the hectic garage rock of "Rattle + Rollin'" or "Hardcore Boy," the band's sense of fun gives them momentum. Songs like these make the album's twists stand out all the more, whether it's the way "McMicken"'s breakneck intro settles into a strut, or the way Battle clarifies just how much she doesn't want to be someone's sweetheart on "Girlfriend." Tweens' exploration of their more sensitive side has mixed results: "Forever"'s vulnerability and tumbling melody recall Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, while "Want U" is a more traditional, and somewhat rambling, ballad. Tweens may be a little uneven, but its successes and opportunities for growth make it a promising start.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares