Since 2004 XX Teens have put out many a single, but it is only within the year of our Goon 2008 that we get to hear their debut. From their humble British seaside town roots, where the 5 piece were at art school together, they have progressed onto performing alongside anti-war protester Brian Haw at an underage festival, with last track ‘For Brian Haw’ showcasing his modest spoken word preaching schtick.
As for the rest of the album, well, it has its moments of rock and roll glory. Opening track ‘The Way We Were’ is a real Rolling Stones type freak out with an aping big crunchy bass line. Next song ‘B-54’ carries on in the same kind of vein, proving that these Teens can do the hellbent one track mind, exhilarating car crash and burn aesthetic and still make it to the finish line. Beyond those first two songs, the album takes unexpected twists and turns. If this is a road trip then a variety levels of landscape and speed are utilised.
Yes there are musical surprises around every corner, so if you do have a short attention span you are well looked after. For example there is the 43 second mid album interlude of a fairground organ playing on ‘(Reprise) – XX Teens’. And then there is the foray into electronica segmentation like on ‘Round’, ‘Onkawara’ and ‘My Favourite Hat’. There are also parts that get a bit too zany, someone please explain the breakdown bird noises on ‘Round’ - an otherwise booty shaking, gorilla playing guitar in dancehall type of tune. And then there is ‘Darlin’ where steel drums rear their head unexpectedly.
Now if only the album ended on ‘Sun Comes Up’ we could lay the album to rest in a state of bliss. This track is where XX Teens really work well with their continuous mash up of form and feelings, here they layer breakneck breakbeat drumming, with a mesmerising, energising sitar sound, ending with rushes of synth. This is the part where you could imagine those dastardly Teens drifting off into the early morning haze. But no, these Teens are haphazard, unpredictable, but ultimately playful.