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CD of The Week

Week of 3/04/19

    TEEN - Good Fruit (Carpark)

    Nova Scotia-via-Brooklyn three-piece TEEN has crafted a cohesive and sentimentally uplifting album from a vast series of bits and influences. Sisters Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine Lieberson's fourth album Good Fruit comes on the heels of 2016's Love Yes, and it's as if the band is saying, "That's how it could have happened, but how about this?" Themes of death, uncertainty and dealing with deeper feelings counterbalance the overt sexuality and romance that overflowed on Love Yes.

    The biggest change that the band faced was the amicable parting with their non-blood member, Boshra AlSaadi (although she did contribute to parts of Good Fruit). It is finally here on their first single, "Only Water," that the sisters can lament and reflect on their father's death. The song is a light uplifting recant about his passing but grows with minimal strings as they praise the man, ending in a virtual dance party for the celebration of his life. The techno dance party spirit wears well on them, as it is also featured in the disco-y songs "Popular Taste" and their second single, "Runner," which possesses smothering synths that parallel the "suffocating relationship" lyrical theme.

    But what sets TEEN apart is their ability to take many different musical elements and genres and make one homogenized record. Over a span of 42 minutes, they seamlessly blend techno-disco with watery synth and squealy Prince-like guitar tones on "Ripe." They merge a slower, slicker R&B sound with sexy and smooth jazz on the stripped down, seven-minute-long "Connection," while leaving the funkier side of R&B to the groovy & harmonized "Putney." In a near 180 degrees turn on "Radar," they lay down some country-ish warbly synth alongside plodding, head-nodding prog elements, and why the heck not: a touch of jazzy saxophone. Yet track after track, the album maintains a uniformly streamlined audio DNA all their own.

    Their unified voice is put on display in the two minimal jazzy piano-based tracks "Shadow" and the album ender "Pretend." Both are sung by Lizzie; her delicate vocals leave her open and vulnerable before they gain support from her sisters. Both try to solve and find a place in struggling relationships, but they unearth more questions than answers. Any good exploration into the soul and dark emotions tends to do just that. It will be an interesting, ongoing journey to see what comes next for the sisters of TEEN.

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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