On their second full-length album The Way and Color, Brooklyn quartet TEEN delve deep into the realm of psychedelia-influenced pop, infusing their songs with winding, colorful melodies that will leave you wishing for a real modern day Woodstock, headbands and peace signs (and maybe some glow sticks) and all.
The album begins with “Rose 4 U,” where electro effects and a jouncing bass underlie a staccato vocal line, sounding like something lifted out of the ‘70s (minus the bellbottoms). Halfway through, the track morphs into airy choral vocals, before plunging back down to earth in a full-out jam, with pounding percussion. “Here’s a rose for you,” the girls of TEEN repeat, offering up something completely different from their older material—a flowering rose of an album that pushes their sound and musical talents to new limits.
Perhaps the most striking thing about TEEN’s new direction on The Way and Color are the vocals. Sure, the singing on In Limbo, the band’s first full-length, was fine—but here, Teeny Lieberson and her bandmates take it to a higher plane. This is evident on many of the tracks, like “Not For Long,” which is light on the instrumentals and relies heavily on layers of vocals, combining soulful alto and soprano voices and weaving a rich, luxurious sound, as well as on “Tied Up Tied Down,” where buzzing, brassy synths and smatterings of electronic effects accompany the girls of TEEN as they experiment with vocal range and melody, stretching high into the treble clef. “More Than I Ask For” also shows Teeny and the band pushing their voices into acrobatic jumps and dives above a cool, muted trumpet. And “Sticky,” likewise, focuses on the vocals: the spare, echoing percussion and light synths allow the delicate singing to shine, combining a fragile melody with rich, psychedelic swells of choral vocals pulsing above a slow clap.
Above all, The Way and Color feels more chilled out, more expansive. “Voices,” for example, is an airy, formless, abstract track of wavering synths and static, and the laid-back “All the Same” is the perfect soundtrack for those taking advantage of the spring weather to laze in the warmth of the sun: a slow, rocking tempo with slightly funky synths and sweet vocals.
The Way and Color is anything but a sophomore slump for TEEN, and takes the band in a significantly new direction. This is definitely a band to watch.