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The Teenagers 

Reality Check (XL)

Wednesday, Apr 16 2008
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It's easy to be conflicted about the Teenagers. Donning messy haircuts and oversize glasses, the Paris trio makes smarmy, jokey synth-pop that's part embarrassing and part irresistible. It's also incredibly self-aware, with heavily accented talk-singing in every song and cockiness to spare. Maybe it's that pairing of yesterday's sounds (Sparks, Thompson Twins) with today's habitual irony that makes the Teenagers — Michael Szpiner, Dorian Dumont, and Quentin Delafon — work when they do. Their most infamous song, "Homecoming," opens their debut album and remains a tricky creation, recounting the tale of an inter-continental tryst from the perspectives of a seedy English guy ("I fucked my American cunt") and a naive American girl ("I loved my English romance") over thumping bubblegum. If at first it all seems awfully shallow, the album proves to be the opposite: It's painstakingly mapped out so that each song hits universal emotional paydirt while piling dreamy synths and dirty guitars over sputtering drum-machine beats. (Or, in the case of the valentine "Starlett Johansson," a wide swath of shoegaze-inspired fuzz.) Don't expect a lot of longevity or mystery from the Teenagers, but surely they'll be the ultracatchy catalyst of a killer dance party.

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Doug Wallen

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