Welcome to Goon Island
Anyone here remember art school rock? Brilliant bands like 10cc (and later, members Godley and Creme) and the Bonzo Doo Dah Dog Band fled collapsing British economy in the ’70s by enrolling in art school. It was one of the few options for the creative mind, and while the job prospects were slim, it beat selling tea at the BBC. XX Teens recaptures that clever vibe, with a mixture of enigmatic lyrics, skilled yet quirky musicianship, and the ability to create a sense of theater rather than look like a bunch of blokes pounding on guitars.
XX Teens come out of the gate strong with a harp opening for the pensive love song “The Way We Were.” The strings disappear fast enough, leaving urgent vocals from Rich Cash and Anthony Silvester over a fuzzy guitar line by William Murrow and Rich Nuvo. Other songs mix odd percussion with English Music Hall organ riffs and classic teen love songs, but never devolve into the “weird ambient music” pitfall.
Despite the retro mix and typical themes, XX Teens makes an interesting and eclectic sound, drawing on the art rock tradition but polishing it up with everything we’ve learned over the past 40 years about how to craft pop tunes. The album comes with a comprehensive and nearly legible set of lyrics along with some truly funny-disgusting graphics that look like Gollum meets 2001 on a Roger Dean cover. They would have fit right in on Night Flight.