Album Review: Teen Canteen – Say It All With Kiss

Say It All With a Kiss

Released 9th September 2016

Words: Gary Feeney

teencanteen say it all with a kissHaving only heard a few of TeenCanteen’s songs before being sent their debut album, I was intrigued by some of the quotes on the press release which accompanied it. From the singles I had heard, phrases like “post-punk” and “sparkling synths” seemed rather at odds with the sugar-sweet pop of songs like Honey and Vagabond.

As it transpires, such terms are probably a more accurate and complete description of the Glasgow based female four-piece’s sound than any you could come up with based on the aforementioned singles alone, and the very fact that Sister has such a distinctly different feel to it from what one may have expected is a big part of why it is such an instantly engaging and captivating release.

Opening with the short, choral Prologue, the first of a number of such interludes which appear throughout the album, the first track proper is the eponymous one which sets the tone perfectly for what is to come. Musically quite sparse with the drumbeat to the fore, Sister is a built around the sultry qualities of lead singer and songwriter Carla Easton’s vocals and the four-piece harmonies which are one of the band’s most prominent and impressive features. Running straight in to Kung Fu Heartbeat which builds to a soaring, synth-soaked chorus, the two songs flow perfectly and highlight the fact that that Say It All With A Kiss is very much an album rather than a collection of songs stuck together.

There’s a selection of slightly darker, more brooding tracks on offer in the vein of those two, such as Sirens and most notably Friends, which is, for me, one of the strongest songs on offer. Featuring a pulsing electronic beat, it’s a song which swoops and soars with a real intensity, rising to a number of false peaks before falling back to start again, finally reaching a crescendo towards the end.

At the lighter end of TeenCanteen’s pop spectrum like songs like How We Met (Cherry Pie) and the previously mentioned single Honey, which are perhaps the best showcases of their harmonies which are arguably the finest aspect of their music. The latter in particular is a real stand out, a perfect slice of summery pop music with Easton switching from the sultrier styling deployed in songs like the title track to a tone which is so charming and sweet that it almost sounds like a schoolgirl singing a lullaby.

Arguably the overall highlight of the album, though, is Roses (My Love), which seems to combine everything which is good about TeenCanteen (in spirit, as much as musical sound) in one glorious two minute bundle: a joyous, fiddle-driven affair, it’s so delightfully upbeat and has such a raucous beat that it almost feels like a ceilidh song that it’s hard to see how anyone could resist its appeal.

If there is a criticism of Say It All With A Kiss, then it would have to be that it does feel like it overruns a little and although there’s just about enough to keep the listener engaged until the end, the overall impact of the album would be greater if it was a few songs shorter and a bit more compact. As a counterpoint to that, it would be hard to decide which songs to leave out when taken in isolation as it’d be unfair to say any of them aren’t good songs and it’s easily understandable why the band wouldn’t want to leave any out, but on balance, making tough calls like that may ultimately have improved the overall effect of the album.

That said though, it’s hard to be too critical when a band can release a selection of songs such as those which appear on Say It All With A Kiss and it’d be harsh to knock points of an album for having too many good songs. Featuring a hugely impressive mix of musicianship, melodies and the best harmonies you’re likely to hear or have heard in recent times, TeenCanteen have produced an extremely accomplished, confident and enjoyable album that is sure to have your feet tapping and to put a smile on your face. It’s hard to think of a better barometer of success for a pop album than that.

Listen to Say It All With  Kiss here:


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