The Teenagers - Reality Check - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Teenagers - Reality Check

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Parisians The Teenagers' debut album was one of the most constantly entertaining releases of 2008 and, thanks to the band's thick Gallic accents and spoken word delivery, one of the more unusual sounding indie records of the decade. Seemingly written from the mindset of your average teen (although the band members are all in their 20s), Reality Check is littered with references to the internet, sex, alcohol, drugs and, most frequently, celebrities. "If Ben Affleck wasn't making movies would the world be better?" they muse snarkily on 'Wheel of Fortune'. Then there's the track 'Scarlett Johansen' and a very edgy little song called 'Fuck Nicole' which could very possibly be about Nicole Richie.

Breakthrough single 'Homecoming' perfectly sums up what the band is about: a duet which tells the story of an English boy who meets a hot American cheerleader and fucks her before heading home. The way it plays up to the cliches of the horny adolescent boy and the gum chewing, airhead teen girl (who thinks the encounter is just like a song by frat boy cretins Blink-182) is brilliant funny. At the same time, you'd like to hate it. Apart from being overwhelmingly zeitguisty with its references to friend requests and SUVs, it's also a tad misogynist - he fucks his "American cunt", she loves her "English romance". The reason it wins you over is less to do with its humour and more down to the way that the band play it absolutely straight, managing to capture not just the high of getting laid for the first time but, thanks mainly to the song's dreamy, droning Velvet Underground guitars, also the bittersweet nostalgia of passing innocence.

This melancholic air permeates many of the songs, and is the crucial ingredient that lends otherwise smutty, slightly nasty songs like 'French Kiss' and 'Sunset Beach' depth and meaning; a sense of seizing the moment and watching it vanish in your embrace. It's not hard to empathise; after all, sometimes we'd all like to go back to that time when it was not only accepted but somehow righteous to be solipsistic, self-serving and as sex-obsessed as possible.

In the end, it's hard to decide if Reality Check is a lot of well observed but slightly silly songs put to great music, or something more profound. Actually, that's pretty much true of all great pop. "Our life is for inspiration/ and memories are for construction/ We might be talking about you or something else/ We have no clue/ Doesn't matter if we tell lies, we'll look at you straight in the eyes," murmurs singer Quentin Delafon on 'Make It Happen'. Amen, brother.

Best tracks: 'Homecoming', 'Love No', 'Make It Happen'

Richard Morris

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