Question: Is it possible for anyone to take you seriously as a band when your aesthetic revolves around puerile descriptions of sex?
Answer: It doesn’t matter. People who like the music will say it’s supposed to be ironic. People who hate it will say it’s crass and stupid. And who cares either way?
The three Frenchmen in the London-based Teenagers survive on this disconnect. Their debut, Reality Check, is supposed to be a hilarious send-up of new-wave music that presents them as a merry band of vulgar horndogs looking for the next broad to hop between the sheets with, acting as vapid as a bus full of male models.
In actuality, the band’s vulgarity beautifully covers up for the fact that their sound rips off the Bravery and the Killers as much as those two bands ripped off Duran Duran, and for the fact that they don’t have anything to say (except that they get laid, like, way, way more than you do).
Opener “Homecoming” is a slow, syncopated-burner that’s apparent purpose is to present a one-night stand from the male and the female perspective. Lead singer Quentin Delafon mumbles through lines like “I fucked my American cunt,” before his female counterpart sings, “I loved my English romance.” But where they could have gone for actual satire, these guys only want you to know they can swear a lot, the women they sleep with are as equally vacuous, and they won’t be calling her after they’re done with her. Get the joke? Me neither.
Equally illuminating tracks like “Starlett Johansson,” “Fuck Nicole,” and “Love No” go about as well as you’d think. The only time the band actually sounds all right is when they get all self-referential, yelling out their own name on album highlight “Feeling Better” and on “Streets of Paris.”
The Teenagers would like you to believe their lyrics are just a representation of how a filthy-mouthed teenager would talk, and that’s why they’re so misogynistic and crass. Yeah, maybe teenagers do talk like that. But they’re not in their twenties playing in a supposedly ironic-rock band. The Teenagers are old enough to know what separates satire from reality, and they have to know they’re on the wrong-- and depressing-- side.
There’s nothing wrong with a band being crass. But when that band tries to act like they’re doing it in order to make a vague, nonsensical statement on twenty-first century love and sex, the result is albums like Reality Check.