Teenagersintokyo - Sacrifice

by Rich Morris Rating:4 Release Date:2010-05-24

Pop music is such a backward looking thing these days that what's deemed 'new' is usually just the latest trend to be exhumed from the 'guilty pleasure' graveyard and given a post-modern, post-irony makeover. Right now, Gayngs, Toro Y Moi and a half-dozen other acts shaping the zeitgeist favour the creamy synth sounds and processed MOR of the mid-80s. These acts somehow manage to make their determinedly uncool sound palette oddly thrilling, mixing it with psychedelia and hip hop, or otherwise finding a perverse punk spirit in daring to be so bland.

The best track on Teenagersintokyo's (not from Tokyo, not teenagers - you probably guessed as much) debut album is actually its last song, '3046', which could easily find a place on Gayngs' Relayted. It features singer Samantha Lim dispassionately cooing "I'm in the mood for love" like an Apple iNymph confirming the emotional software package she's just downloaded. She's backed by the kind of twinkling starlight melodies and warm synth pads which positively scream for a slow-mo shot of Molly Ringwald making out with some bequiffed bozo. That makes it sound terribly old, but anyone who's been paying attention over the last six months will know it also sounds very now.

Unfortuntely, throughout the rest of Sacrifice, Teenagersintokyo miss both a trick and the bandwagon by looking to the icy synthpop of the early-80s for their sound. Tracks like 'Robocat' and 'Talk to the Fire' pull attractively angular shapes, while 'As We Are' and 'Peter Pan' reference John Foxx and the artier end of early-80s synth pop. But no matter how well executed all this is nothing can hide the void at the centre of most of the songs on Sacrifice and nothing can hide how tired this shtick has become.

Teenagersintokyo's main problem is that they embody that old cliché: style over substance. Only by now, the style is beginning to look a little threadbare and tatty. Like La Roux last year and New Young Pony Club before that, Teenagersintokyo seem to believe that the early-80s are an inexhaustible musical goldmine. They're wrong, just like all the late-Britpop bores who insisted on bashing out endless mod-worshipping, Beatles-nicking examples of rockist stodge were wrong. They fiddled while Rome burned and they awoke from the party to find themselves out in the cold with their todgers on show. If Teenagersintokyo aren't careful, the same will happen to them. The pop of early-80s is dead and its reanimated Frankenstein's monster of corpse is starting to decay and shed limbs. Let it go, guys. Let it go.

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