Teen Men is more than a moniker for the four-piece comprised of The Spinto Band’s Nick Krill and Joe Hobson and visual artists Albert Birney and Catharine Maloney. Taking their name from an ad in a 1960s Playboy, the band embodies a blend of mischief and innocent curiosity like a coming-of-age teenager’s hands and eyes on a men’s magazine. With their self-titled full-length debut, Teen Men are displaying that youthful state of mind that they allowed to linger long after they were eligible to vote.
A first go-round of Teen Men is likely to bring comparisons to the likes of mellower Vampire Weekend and Camera Obscura thanks to its breezy melodies punctuated by poppy instrumentation. Opening track “Hiding Records (So Dangerous)” leads off with a hopscotching synth ditty that mimics the eventual softly sung chorus and sets the summery tone for the record. The colorful “Adventure Kids” highlights the band’s exploratory drive while the cool splash of “The Sea, The Sea” features what may as well be the Teen Men mantra as Krill sings, “It seems we find ourselves in love with our own youth.” There are solid reminders of The Spinto Band’s indie pop-rock prowess in tracks like “Township (Not Sure)” but the instantly infectious layers of keys that open following track “Fell Out a Tree” demand fresh attention. Teen Men have dubbed part of their genre as “public access” thanks to the curated video projections that accompany the band’s live performances, and that tag becomes most evident in the staticky foundation of the fantastically lo-fi “Los Angeles.”
Meshing the best of the past with the present is exactly what you’d expect a band called Teen Men to be striving to do. Still, that assumed sentimentality doesn’t really surface so earnestly until the love-longing of closing track “Kids Being Kids.” There’s a nurtured nostalgia throughout the album, one that’s utilized well, showing that this is a band that knows when to be uninhibitedly youthful and when to be mature musicians. Teen Men is about as kicked-back and comfortable as a debut LP can hope to be, seemingly confident that it will be making itself right at home in the ears of all who hear it.