Released on their own label No Sleep, the self-titled long player from nipaluna/Hobart post-punks Teens balances rawness and exactness, immediacy and precision. The persistent tension between perfectionism and the desire to capture something with a live feel, has been harnessed masterfully to create an album that is immediately, intensely captivating, and reveals more and more of itself on subsequent listens.

Some of the songs on Teens are five years old, and others are much fresher, but they are all united by a stated intention to “write songs that were a little more rough and raw around the edges”. And while it often feels like the album is going to tear itself apart at the seams, a closer inspection reveals that those raw edges are anchored by deliberate and calculated intricacy, expertly embellished with precise stitches of harshness, and delicacy.

Bogged down by seemingly endless obstacles, including physical injuries passed like a relay baton between band members, a collapsing live music community, and the isolating effects of long-distance relocation, Teens is a document of resilience and tenacity. 

The closure of the beloved Brisbane Hotel, longtime hub of lutruwita/Tasmania’s close-knit music community, left a deep hole in the local scene, dampening the spirits of many, and leaving Teens feeling disconnected and unmotivated. The band had become separated by distance, coming together periodically to write in a decaying public practice room riddled with mould, which would regularly fill with diesel exhaust from a bus parked nearby. Along with the majority of the local showground’s infrastructure, the building has since been demolished, and the unhoused population who had sought refuge around it, evicted. 

The band line-up, which has evolved regularly over the years, was in a state of flux. Knowing that once recording had finished, bassist Jack Storay would be participating in that most Tasmanian of pilgrimages – Moving To The Mainland – long time fan Jono Tate was welcomed into the fold, contributing guitar, organ and vocal parts to the recording. Band leader Shawn Arnold, along with Storay, Tate and drummer Alex Davern, recorded the majority of the album live over the course of a day, in the idyllic bush setting of Studio Sola Paradiso, run by Joss Thomas, a former member of the band.

Thomas’ deep understanding of Teens and their desired sound allowed the recording process to flow easily, and of course the album couldn’t be considered complete without the inclusion of some of his prodigious guitar work. Previous drummer Spiro Noutsatos also leaves his mark on Teens, having penned the bass line that opens the album, the backbone to recent single ‘Burning Bridges’. 

Teens, as a collection of work, mirrors the structures of its individual songs – blasting, receding, building and releasing. 

Side A bursts with colour; glimmering layers of haze underpinned by driving, rapidly cycling bass riffs, compelling you to dance with pentecostal fervour. The playful malice of ‘Burning Bridges’ gives way to ‘Please Stop Holding On So Tight’, which sprints along cobblestones to launch a pounding assault from all sides, delivering us into the swirling haze of delirium that is ‘Fever Dream’. Inspired by the 2019 El Paso shooting, ‘Vacant Lot’ is filled with jittering unease and hopelessness, and the side ends with lead single ‘I’m An Art Prize’, a lurching, inebriated plea for existential validation. 

Flipping over to Side B, the diesel fumes start to seep in, and the mood darkens, with the dissonant disorientation of ‘GHB’. ‘How Old Are You’ follows – sinister and skittering, its ominous tension sustained and unrelenting. The visceral call and response gut punch of ‘Eraser’ arrives as a welcome release, and unfolds into the pure, effervescent fun of ‘Ginny’, an ode to a friend who really bloody loves soda water. Finally the band allows us to rest, as we take a psychedelic midnight drive home along the Midland Highway with album closer ‘Blocks’.

Recorded by Joss Thomas and Shawn Arnold, and mixed and mastered by none other than Mikey Young, Teens is Teens’ first vinyl release, and is available to purchase via Bandcamp.

Release: July 5th, 2024, No Sleep