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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Album Review: The Teenagers – Reality Check

The majority of what I’ve heard about French synthpop pranksters The Teenagers revolves around their music being “a triumph of style over substance,” relying on sexy French accents and pop-culture sleaze rather than actual quality. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and so I approached their debut album Reality Check expecting something passable: probably not brilliant but enough to keep the NME kids going until the next flavour of the month comes along.

It certainly delivers on the style count – a CSS-esque confection full of filthy broken English, feel-good synths and general Latin cockiness. The opening track and first single ‘Homecoming’ is frankly hilarious (so long as you don’t take it too seriously), and ‘Love No’ distils an incisive portrait of a failing relationship into a very slick three-minute pop song, but from there on in a formula of self-namedropping and pop culture references starts to take hold. While the latter works in ‘Starlett Johansson’ (about an obsessive fan of Scarlett), elsewhere it seems forced, and self-aggrandising tracks like ‘Feeling Better’ tread a fine line between pop pastiche and plain old trash.

What The Teenagers do best is over the top luridness, put to its best effect on ‘Homecoming’ and ‘Fuck Nicole’. Crudity is just that much more fun in a second language. Unfortunately the album seems to run out of hooks on the last few tracks; I had to listen several times before they all stopped running together and began to feel like songs rather than background noise.

Reality Check is a competent album, perhaps a bit too heavy on the cockiness and in need of some pruning, but while the bad songs are forgettable, the good ones are excellent. Yes, it is style over substance, but that’s what makes it fun.

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