Delaware’s Teen Men feature two members of indie dance rock mainstays The Spinto Band, Nick Krill and Joe Hobson, along with visual artists Albert Birney and Catharine Maloney. By consciously incorporating a multimedia focus into their new project, Krill and Hobson treat their new band’s compositions like canvases, daubing and layering on playful synthpop. On their self-titled debut, the quartet build out eccentric, pleasing melodies, but they largely stick to the same handful of pastel pigments where an occasional stark contrast might elicit a stronger response.
Teen Men took their name from a concept published in an issue of Playboy in the ’60s, a mindset focused on “taking risks, irrational self-confidence, and the search for new experiences.” While that might be the kind of thinking that drove the four artists to put Teen Men out into the world, it’s not necessarily what a listener will hear when they give the album a spin.
After opening with a sampled chuckle, tinkling synth, and Krill’s falsetto on “Hiding Records (So Dangerous)”, Teen Men open the door from their bedroom and explore a sorbet pop wonderland. Much of the album plays out like a blurred MGMT; “Adventure Kids” and “Township (Not Sure)” could easily blend into a midday festival set, all warm glow and lazy-afternoon hooks.
That said, the formula grows a bit tired in places, meaning that the tweaks stand out stronger. “It’s All Rushing Back” betrays none of that laid-back, luxurious pop tone while infusing a bit of Vampire Weekend’s polyrhythmic pulse. The twitches in Krill’s vocals and the distorted horns on “New Kind” similarly offer exciting new shading to their palette.
As a debut, it’s fitting that Teen Men makes it sound like the quartet is still figuring out the dimensions of the “bedroom” aspect of their bedroom pop, picking out the figurines for the bookshelf and just how fluffy the pillows on the bed should be. It’s also clear, however, that they’ve got good taste and a promising decorating plan.
Essential Tracks: “New Kind”, “It’s All Rushing Back”