XX Teens
"Welcome to Goon Island"

(Mute 2008)XX Teens - Welcome to Goon Island

British. Arty. These are the two words you need to know about XX Teens. Their debut album, "Welcome to Goon Island," is a rambling, disconnected jaunt through the strange landscapes of British Art-Rock. These boys have plenty of sass and attitude, but are sorely lacking in any kind of musical depth. Although plenty of snazzy electronic bells and whistles were added by producer Ross Orton (M.I.A., Fat Truckers), the songs never go anywhere, and there's nothing under the surface of this utterly forgettable LP.

There are flashes of inspiration throughout - a spacey breakdown in "Onkawara," a rocking outro on single "Darlin'," a compelling, rumbling drumbeat opening on "Round" - but there's never enough consistency within a song to make it stick to itself. Usually each track has one strong element hiding among a flurry of weak sonic trappings. "My Favorite Heat" is the exception, rocking out with a raw, organic energy that sounds like a band that actually plays together. The other tracks are far from cohesive, sounding like experimental tracks that were hurriedly thrown together in the studio with no regard for dynamics or throughline.

In an album that is supposed to be arty and explorative, two of the main aspects - vocals and drums - have absolutely no depth. Some of the lyrics are interesting, but the vocals only come in two flavors - unintelligible wailing or weird Lou Reed-ish spoken word. Except for the aforementioned "Round," the drums are simplistic and dull, especially the incessant cowbell in opener "The Way We Were." Again, the album has its moments, but they are few and far between. Perhaps if XX Teens dropped the art-house delivery and delved deeper into the art of songwriting, this band could go somewhere.

C-

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