In Limbo, the debut album from New Yorkers TEEN, will certainly leave you floating amid dreamy soundscapes full of sweeping melodies and fuzzed-out guitars, adrift in a veritable sea of sound. Headed by Kristina (Teeny) Lieberson, the keyboardist from Here We Go Magic, the all-female band trips out to psychedelic rock that lets you know they’re a little more mature than their name might imply.
The album kicks off with “Better,” where bright, hazy synths with an 80’s vibe meld with Lieberson’s sweet vocals. Her signature rich alto is at times droll and tongue-in-cheek, as on “Come Back,” but her voice also lends itself to the melodic retro ballads “Charlie” and “Roses & Wine.” The real promise of TEEN, though, is the band’s masterful composition, its ability to superimpose layers of harmonious instrumentation to create a lush, hyper-textured sound. The laconic dream-pop of “Huh” features expansive synths and echoing percussion that hint at a vast sense of space, and the title track features long waves of keys and overlapping vocals that build, ever so slowly, into an engulfing crescendo. “Fire” also has this very rich, diffuse sound, but it falls apart in the last two minutes as its many melodies leave off one by one until all that remains is a persistent drum.
While In Limbo is full of luminous, evocative music, it falls prey to dream-pop’s greatest downfall–the songs can drag on, leaving you, quite literally, in a limbo of never-ending instrumentals. “Sleep is Noise” and “Unable” have a rich texture of ethereal vocal melodies blended with synths imposed on synths imposed on (yet more) synths, but the waves of sound swirl on for much too long, leaving you awash and lost. TEEN has started off with a strong debut–now they’ll just need to focus, find direction, and break out of the stasis of limbo.