Label: Frenchkiss Records
Tweens’ self-titled debut is not an album that needs a 500-word review to get its points across: this is a ridiculously entertaining, undeniably scrappy Cincinnati powerhouse. What Tweens, who are most definitely anything but middle-school, lack in refinement they more than make up for with bottom-of-the-gutter garage-rock hooks and the kind of bass-and-guitar synergy that will make even the most stoic of music afficianados want to dance around.
The break that paved the way for Tweens’ signing to Frenchkiss starts and ends with fellow Ohio resident Kim Deal (the Pixies, the Breeders). What started as a one-off gig opening for the Breeders on their Cincinnati stop turned into the trio being booked for the entire tour—that’s just how infectious Tweens’ brand-new record really is.
At just over a half-hour long, make no mistake: this is bottom-feeding garage punk at its roots. Album highlights like “Rattle + Rollin’”, “Forever” and “Be Mean” cement the record with filled-to-bursting lyrical ingenuity courtesy of singer/guitarist Bridget Battle. As her name might suggest, songs are candy-coated but pack a misbehaving punch with downright heavy, soaking-with-fuzz guitar riffs and a few surprise riot grrrl yelps (like in closer “Star Studder”).
The aptly-titled mid-album instrumental “Stoner” breaks up the fast-paced pop with sludgey, oh-so-perfectly-recorded distortion chugging. It acts as a subtle refrain from Battle’s furious tempo, and highlights some of the amazing production that Tweens displays. Elsewhere on the record, “Want U” slows things down even further with a straight-laced crooner: a spring reverb tank gets pushed to its limits mangling the lone, treble-biting guitar in the background while Battle waxes romantic. It’s the only time Tweens ever panders to its audience—but even though its vaguely Wavves-inspired noisiness is most definitelya contemporary ballad, you can almost forgive them for the chink in Battle’s armour that it exposes.
Ultimately, Tweens’ debut isn’t the sort of album you’ll get into an existential debate about: at its roots, it’s a simple and straight-forward, but incredibly well-done, introduction. Fans of Burger Record’s excellently-curated punk manifest will find a lot to love in Tweens, and the threesome can only get better from here.