Teenanger: Good Times Out of Chaos…

a close-up of a snarling cat, in a negative image coloured pink

In the spring of 2018, Teenanger found themselves in a quandary. The Toronto DIY scene innovators had successfully recorded, released, promoted and toured their self-titled album Teenanger. This marked a decade together and they were ready to move forward creating new material for the next album.

However, it turned out to be quite a journey. The quandary was that they had writer’s block and were uncertain how to resolve this lack of creativity. It led to soul-searching and even the possible break-up of the band. They discussed alternative options to renew the spark they craved and decided the main issue was physical space. They had fallen into a routine which had been in place for years. It was holding them back and they needed change. Hence “Studio Z” was founded.

A vacant basement which was atmospheric, cheap, probably unsafe and definitely home to vermin became their new studio and Studio Z was born. The setup allowed them to install a fully-functional recording studio adjacent to its claustrophobic live room. They began working and were refreshed by this change of environment. And then came one problem after another: persistent vermin, two major floods, constant mould and a CO2 leak that could have killed themselves and others in the building’s vicinity. Teenanger just kept working and, perhaps unsurprisingly the album was shaping up to be a different beast. Almost at the finish line, the building’s power was cut off indefinitely. Once restored, Teenanger returned to Studio Z one last time to make final tweaks, send the files for mixing, disassemble the studio and promptly left for good. Studio Z had served its purpose and the album Good Time was born.

With this backdrop I expected a guttural angry album riling against all the problems, but not at all. It has a sense of freedom and fun.  I had to laugh as the first track is called “Beige”, but there is nothing beige about the recording of this album.  The opener immediately reminded me of the B52’s, full of funky guitars and quirky male and female vocals.  “Trillium Song” continues with a poppy upbeat driven by funky drums.

Can music be angular?  There is a whole array of bands around at the moment who seem to be born out of the Talking Heads school of jittery beats. Working Men’s Club, Pottery and Public Practice spring to mind, and now Teenanger.  This album feels light but edgy, full of dancey vibes particularly on “Pleasure” and, my favourite track “Romance For Rent”. I just loved the harmonies but still with that underlying dance beat which seems to be a feature of most of the songs on this album.  The title track includes the chorus “We are having a good time” and I can picture them playing this while the rats run around their feet and water seeps through the walls. The 8th and final song is “The Drain”, now I wonder where the inspiration for that came from!

Good Time by Teenanger is released on their own label Telephone Explosion on 1 October 2020.

Telephone Explosion

Written by Julia Mason

I love funky punky music you can dance to, and that's the type of music that inspires my writing. Currently an admin for the Fontaines D.C. Facebook fangroup "What's Really Going On?" which now has almost 4000 members. Living in Edinburgh, UK I am also a member of Pentland Triathletes and have completed two Half Ironmans. Good to meet you!

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