Like the rise of the synth, psychedelic music has taken the indie music scene by storm in recent years. TEEN are no different, crafting lush and vibrant psych-pop straight outta Brooklyn (where you can throw a stone and easily hit 11 psych bands). Still, they demonstrate keen progressiveness with their new EP, Carolina, a “more natural” collection of songs they hoped could be more readily translated live. But beyond that aim, the five-track effort is an exhilarating take on more standardized psych-pop.
What makes their blend of psych-pop so compelling is in the subtle but imperative touches. “Paradise” is boilerplate psychedelia, powered by a guitar that darts in and out like a rainbow-colored snake. But the little flourishes, the unceasing drums and the random, fleeting upticks in energy, help ground it. “Circus” accomplishes the diametric opposite: the random chatter of glitchy effects and exaggerated horn wails make the psychedelic affair all that more grand and trippy.
While “Cannibal” is far more laid-back and unassuming than its brethren, its union of saccharine pop harmonies and oddball effects is about as perfect a balance of psych and pop as you’re bound to find.
Still, nearly as much credit belongs to frontwoman Teeny Lieberson, who took on a far higher register than before. In the title track, her vocals, pitchy moans that start and stop with irritating irregularity, are the singular drawing force, a feat which brings a more hard-edged vibe to the psychedelic fray. With “Glass Cage”, Lieberson’s voice becomes so ethereal it’s practically an instrument, replacing any groovy guitar or burned-out effect as the source of the song’s mind-expanding potential.
Regardless of how these songs decode live, TEEN have proven they not only understand psych’s appeal and complexities, but how to bend and shape those in the march toward further transcendence. Plus, who wants to have to schlep over to a nightclub?
Essential Tracks: “Paradise”, “Carolina”