Une compile d’inédits et raretés qui fait revivre un excellent groupe de power pop rock telle que pratiquée en France dans les 80’s. Sur d’habiles influences Plimsouls avec mélodies à têtes chercheuses et guitares qui rentrent dans le chou, le groupe conjugue passion et intégrité en douze titres qui n’ont globalement pas pris une ride.
Une injustice à réparer et c’est Pop The Balloon qui s’y colle ! Power trio Grenoblois qui a sévi dans les années quatre vingt dix, Teen Appeal est loin d’avoir eu la reconnaissance méritée, mais leur pop dynamique et ciselée valait bien ce coup de chapeau. Leur grande fascination, c’était les Plimsouls, ça s’entend tout au long des douze titres, mais retravaillé par Emmanuel Bault, chanteur-guitariste, signataire de tous les titres et incontournable bonhomme de l’histoire. Power-pop classieuse ou chaque refrain compte, chaque note est juste, laissant à la guitare le plus gros de l’architecture mélodique. A ce jeu là, les Teen Appeal étaient loin d’être les plus mauvais. Faisant de Act une solide piqûre de rappel.
It seems that certain continental bands and a few antipodean counterparts are locked in an early-80’s guitar-driven time wrap. This is definitively true of The Teen Appeal. The blueprint for the band has to be The Plimsouls – which is no bad thing. The 12 songs on Act
Are almost all up-tempo rockers with ringing guitars, thumping drums and incessant harmonies. What more could you ask for? Song writer Emmanuel Bault is happy to expose his 60’s inflences and his English lyrics all seem to hang together well – not always the case with writers working in a second language. And he has a great vocal delivery, with a voice that has just the right balance between rough-edged and melodic.
Bucketfull Of Brains
Now here's an album that reflects the days, most notably the late seventies and early eighties, when new wave, power pop and soft rock existed peacefully side by side on the top forty charts. Throughout the course of "Act," you'll hear the influence of folks like Elvis Costello, the Jags, Squeeze and Joe Jackson. But Teen Appeal delivers their material in an independent spirit that they should be proud to claim their own. Another band whose mark is mined on "Act" is the Barracudas, specifically on "Summer Is Coming," which revolves around a neat repertoire of chirpy harmonies and speedy surf punk rhythms. Choppy guitar breaks, attended by skittish melody lines also crop up regularly on the disc. Spiked with the ringing tone of a keyboard, "She's Gone Away" effectively bridges the gap between rickety sixties garage rock and commercial pop aspirations. The title track of the record, "Possessive Love" and the socially conscious "Money" should not be overlooked either. Governed by a spontaneous feel that gives the impression Teen Appeal simply went into the studio, turned on the technology and started playing, "Act" is a down to earth affair. The songs are catchy and performed straight from the heart. A booklet, telling the history of Teen Appeal, is included with the album as well.
Twist And Shake
When I was in primary school our teacher explained the history of European interest in the Australian continent. Common understanding has it that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook, whose discovery led ultimately to the settlement of Australia by an intriguing bunch of pompous English bureaucrats, convicts and a significant female contingent enlisted to stop the fledgling colony descending into a festival anarchy and sodomy (these days the term ‘settlement’ has been replaced by the more legally correct ‘conquest’, a more than subtle distinction that continues to annoy the fuck out of conservative commentators throughout Australia). In reality the first European visitors to Australia were the Dutch (who had the misfortune to land on the inhospitable north-west coast), with the Portugese (at that time a real player on the world stage, compared to that country’s dubious contemporary status).
The French were also in the mix as well. In fact, our teacher remarked when describing the story of a meeting in South Australia between French and English ships (at that time embroiled in one of their many fierce battles for European colonial supremacy), had there been a slight change in salient historical events, Australia could have found itself settled – or conquered – by the French, which (amongst other notable consequences – including maybe some better culinary traditions) would’ve meant French being the lingua franca of the Australian colonial nation. To a nine year old boy, the possibility that we’d be speaking French was a bit tough to comprehend.
So what does this all have to do with The Teen Appeal? Well, the Teen Appeal is French, but every time I listen to the band’s posthumous release, Act, I’m convinced I’m listening to a Dom Mariani tape that’s been washed up on the shores of the eastern states of Australia. The Teen Appeal – the title is a tribute to The Plimsouls, a major influence – formed in 1990 in the Isere region, centered around the songwriting talents of guitarist and vocalist Emmanuel Bault. The Teen Appeal’s first album, “When It Comes”, was released in 1994, with a single a couple of years later. A second album died with another line-up change, and the Teen Appeal ceased to be in late 1997.
“Act” is comprised of songs slated for release on the band’s second album, plus a bunch of songs from very early on in the Teen Appeal history. With its catchy hooks and frantic drum beats, the title track is almost note perfect power pop, the type of song that makes you want to jump in a car and drive to the beach and bask in the pleasures of the seaside environment. “Someday” could easily be renamed “Someloves”, such is its acute association with the Australian band of that name (which is not to suggest in any way that plagiarism is involved) and "Happy the Halfwit" is similarly entertaining, sprightly and a recipe for dancing. The presence of keyboards in Possessive Love gives a distinctly garage feel to a riff that has its origin in Keef’s explosion of creative riffs in the late 1960s and 1970s.
I approached “Mr Sayer” with trepidation, with a lingering concern that it might be a celebration of the short English guy with the Afro who turned up periodically on the Australian pop charts in the 1970s (and who’s since made Australia his permanent home) but my concern was proven to be unfounded. “Mr Sayer” is anything but trite in its Stems-like brilliance (and Easybeats-ish chopping guitar). “She’s Gone Away” is arguably a bit on the melancholic side of the pop equation, but it’s equally a natural break on the album that leads nicely to the fuzzy guitar introduction to “Vampirella” (itself worthy of comparison with Deniz Tek’s solo stuff as well as Trilobites and Screaming Tribesmen efforts). “Girl” should be packaged up and sent over to James Baker as a tribute to James’ ubiquitous use of the female gender in early Scientists tunes – the song itself doesn’t cut the Dijon mustard quite like Salmon and Baker’s early efforts but it’s worth a listen nonetheless.
“Cecllia” and “Lost Time” are taken from a recording session in 1992, and are (objectively) of lesser quality than the band’s later material (the liner notes include an amusing explanation of the deficiencies in the band’s early songs). Yet “Money” (a pumped up Church who’ve traded psychedelics for cold beer) and the bubble-gum pop of “Summer is Coming” illustrate the spark that underpinned the Teen Appeal’s early performances.
The beauty of good power pop is its marriage of melody, pumping rhythms and sunny rock’n’roll attitude. The Teen Appeal have – sorry, had – that in spades. Kudos to whoever’s responsible for getting this album out into public view.
Patrick Emery – I94 Bar
¡Que placer reencontrarse con esta banda!. A pesar de que este disco tiene unos años (gracias Fabien), siguen siendo un lujo para mis sentidos. Mi primera toma de contacto con estos chicos de Grenoble se remonta a la década de los 90’s gracias a Dennis del fanzine Larsen, responsable de los recomendables Slow Slushy Boys . Recuerdo que aquel mini cd me volvía loco, y digo volvía en pasado, por que tras prestarlo para compartir el deleite de su escucha, a día de hoy sigue prestado y sin noticias. Hecho este inciso, diré que más tarde fué el sello Larsen quien editó al grupo el cd “When it comes” que, aún teniendo buenas canciones, no tenía la pegada de su debut. Éste disco que se editó a medias entre Pop the Balloon (Francia) y Wizzard in Vinyl (Japón) se compone de una colección de canciones que se mueven perfectamente dentro de las directrices marcadas por la escuela de los Plimsouls o los Stems, dejando claro que Emmanuel Bault es un creador de canciones con empaque. Son 12 canciones con pegada, con melodía, empezando por el tema que da título al disco, “Act” que, con un riff cortante, juego de voces etc provoca un innegable recuerdo a la banda de Peter Case. Travesuras de guitarras en “Someday” te hipnotizan con el sonido característico de las Rickenbackers. Las canciones siguen sonando y te atrapan con títulos como “Happy the Halfwit”, “Mr Sayer”, “Girl”, temas frescos que combinan a la perfección con esta época del año. Aparecen así las influencias mas sesenteras saliendo a la palestra temas como “She’s gone away” que deja en el aire la estela de los inolvidables Zombies, “Vampirella” que parece escupida desde un garage donde el rock and roll no deja de sonar. Con “Possessive Love” se enganchan a la intensidad del soul gracias al sonido portentoso de órgano a cargo de Jocelyn Godard. Como bonus, además, cuatro temazos que me atrevería a decir que son los que contenía aquel primer disco, fechados entre 1991 y 1992 y que enganchan como lo hizo aquél en su día. Y mencionamos, en este apartado, a “Cecilia” puro sonido Plimsouls, “Lost Time” y “Summer is coming” temazos a la altura de nombres consagrados en la historia del rock and roll de serie b. Si eres amante del power pop de verdad y te cruzas con este disco no lo dejes pasar de largo. Un servidor, mientras tanto, va a buscar entre sus discos los de los Cry Babies y los Roadrunners…. ¡para recordar viejos tiempos!.