Boston-bred T e e n e n d e r fuses indie, pop-punk and 80’s elements, culminating in a young-American-just-trying-to-get-laid sound, similar to the one popularized by late 90’s pop punk/alternative rock bands. If you’re looking for something reminiscent of your first sip of beer or those basement hangouts where you nervously inhaled Cheetos and proceeded to make out with a braces-wearing classmate, then the duo formed by brothers Brian and Chris McKenna will hit the spot.
Twinkling, synth-studded opener “checks+crosses” jabs a spunky, upbeat groove, sending me back to those Music Express carnival rides that made the Top 40 sound suddenly awesome. Passion Pit-esque vocals hit it off with The Killers’ retro poppiness. Half-way through, the sonic pairing joins forces with a jazzy horn section, resulting in a feel-good epicness that shimmers throughout the rest of the EP.
But it’s “nitetrap” that emits a heart-racing, cheeks-blushing angst through a catchy chorus, breezy vocals, and a handclap that cheers our pretend couple on. Lyrics like, “It’s a seductive drug…Your sweet reaction gets me high” give this track a caramel-sticky-crushin’ theme. “nitetrap” is that summer camp love, the song you could lose your skinny dipping virginity to.
Pop party track “noheadrush” takes a slightly different stance, warning, “Be careful what you’re craving/She’s not sugar.” At the EP’s end, Baerstronaut gently pumps the original with enough helium until his remix reaches a bouncy playfulness, making for a total roller rink vibe–disco ball and all.
As we tend to save the best for last, “badangel” is a standout on the EP. Dark alt-pop energizes this track from the start; by adding that tinge of malevolent naughtiness through intensified synth and pulsing rhythm, T e e n e n d e r continues to evoke slick casualness. “badangel” is like being in the coolest detention ever.
The duo has brought back the freshest qualities of the ‘80s and sweeped in enough of a modern sound for this EP to be decadeless. If I could describe T e e n e n d e r as anything, it would be passing your license test on the third try and heroically speeding off in your mom’s minivan with the speakers giving all they’ve got. –Rachel Haney