It’s hard to discover new music as soon as it arrives consistently. With the amount that comes through each and every day, sometimes absolute gems can slip through your fingers until they start to crack the mainstream or gain some noise in the media. Likewise, London’s Teen Brains released their self-titled debut EP last year which completely evaded my listening. Luckily, 2016 sees them back for more with their destructive yet hazy new release Translucent.
One of the first things I noticed about Teen Brains is the subtlety of their music. The sheer amount of bands who sound like them is ridiculous, yet they’ve mastered themselves into a way that they sound like no-one else. If you’re talking about being translucent, invisibility like that is key.
‘In A Haze’ collides with itself in the best way possible. Tyler Darrington’s vocals contain this luminous yet echoey feeling inside of a darkened atmosphere that is just a sandwich of pulsating rhythm and grappling distortion. It feels so much like a coming together of minds that has transpired over time, yet the song is only four and a half minutes long? Look at newly-named Preoccupations and imagine them with some Faris Badwan-type vocals and even then, it’s still wildly different. When the overwhelming trippiness kicked off at the start of ‘Isolation’, you can’t help but get a wondrous sensation reach over you. The overall calmness is surprising when compared to just how bewildering ‘In A Haze’ was, but it allows Darrington to project further in a way the first track didn’t allow him to.
‘Wash Away’ is a weird one. Underneath it has the pace and prowess of a darker Marr riff and the emotion of cheery Morrissey – “I’m feeling just fine/But there’s nothing on my mind” – yet it allows itself to slide through with a graceful moonwalk towards something that’s all light rhythms and cymbals tussling with a fine selection of “ooh’s”. And it goes hard. Its last minute is pure filth, a cacophony of elevating drums, chaos-infused singing and a never-ending grasp on distorted guitars. For the title track of the EP as a closer, it’s actually enormous in size albeit with a minimal stature. There’s no ferocious, mosh-pitting anger portrayed in the other tracks but it’s so jam-packed with beauty, it doesn’t come across as being any lesser of a song. From that beginning opening of a flowing spring to the tranquillity of a wailing banshee that is the lead guitar, it continually picks up, but never to any point of blowing over. Think of it as that bit in Goldilocks when she finds the third bear’s porridge… “this one’s just right.”
You’ll see the EP as being the musical equivalent of a contained room being hotboxed. Unless you’re inside that room, you won’t feel the effects. As soon as you open the door, however, it all comes flooding out. You can’t stop it.