I heard about Tweens as a Vacation side project. Well, they’ve dwarfed that band’s popularity already, so it’s the last I’ll use that term. The Cincinnati three-piece released their self-titled debut earlier in April on French Kiss Records, and they’ve been hitting the supporting tour scene hard, including dates on the Breeders’ recent Last Splash tour.
So how does a band featuring 2/3’s of a garage/power-pop band fair opening for the Breeders? Well, that sound is evident while spinning the disc. While the Vacation elements are there in the guitar and bass especially, specifically in the tuning and understated production, it’s often swapped out for a classic 1960s-style rock that’s complemented by alternately peppy pop vocals from Bridget Battle. The mixed elements work, as in the “McMicken” which has bouncy underproduced garage elements at play in the guitar while the overall structure is pure pop. “Girlfriend” follows a similar pattern. Later, in “Don’t Wait Up,” there’s a stoner-pop feel but, with Battle’s sugary voice, it comes across as a lot more positive and playful than the music really is, much like Kim Deal pulled off in her pre-Breeders group,The Pixies. While the word “trash-pop” comes up in the discussion, that’s more evident in the snazzy vocals than elsewhere, with the music always maintaining a dirty base that pushes current underneath the pop surf. If you’ve ever wondered what early ‘80s female-fronted pop would sound like if real bands provided the soundtrack instead of a Casio, this may be along the right track, just with some playful disruption and distortion, “because sweetness is killing me.” I hear some shades of Blondie.
“McMicken” is a standout, with a frantic but contained vocal structure that culminates with some group shouts before hopping back into that high-strung verse delivery. The cymbals drive the percussion, making it loud and crashing without any pummel. The percussion as a whole is chugging and high strung, keeping the feet tapping and the heart rate rising. The boisterous “McMicken” quickly segues into “Be Mean,” where Battle shows her range, hitting on a thoughtful tone that soothes out into the singalong chorus again. It’s fluid music that carries and energizes but it’s never stagnant or too similar from one song to another. Later, that pop shines through again on “Forever.” “Stoner” is a Kinks-esque pysch-pop instrumental jam.
If you’re into high energy, bouncy pop with punkish undertones, look no further. The name Tweens even fits, and it’s a word I generally abhor.
7.9 / 10
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