Posted by in November's Magazine

This is how it starts. With the facts. I’ve chosen, willingly, to see this band live more times than I’ve ever smiled (6) and they always, always, undo the math on that. To say they are the bastard offspring of the NME and Smash Hits is a lazy signifier, but I’ll say it anyway, because their formula is simple: 50% indie nous plus 50% pop sensibility = nirvana (the state of mind not the band).

In a packed club under a railway siding in a godforsaken corner of Glasgow on a bitterly cold October night, the girls of TeenCanteen achieve the impossible; they bring the summer back for one hour only. The four of them are ribboned across a stage that is strewn with sunflowers – a logo they should adopt – guitar, keyboard, drums, bass, left to right. Various celebrity guests pepper the stage. No need. Even this early in their gigging career, the band is palpably a gang.



From the moment they spark up, they rattle out one glorious earworm – which is to say a tune you can’t get out of your head – after another. Combining the immediacy of nursery rhymes with the grittiness of the gutter. Two singers, a bunch of songs (I wasn’t taking notes) and absolutely nailed on harmony vocals. A thing then of rare beauty.

Friends rides in on an ominous organ riff, for this poppiest of bands, and a warning; “This is how it starts/The beginning of the end.” The ethereal Cherry Pie is delivered with wonderful vocal precision; “I fell into your eyes like an inky black splash.” In the audience, rogue orange balloons full of helium trap the light.

The overall effect is American 60s garage band (think Nuggets) crossed with The Shangri-Las filtered through Glasgow. Crucially, and uniquely I think for an all girl pop band, they sing in their own accents, which offer a bold counterpoint to the sugar bullets that are their songs. The lyrics are by turn innocent and knowing: “I just want to share some popcorn with you”…“I’m trying so hard to fuckin’ breath.” Songs about meeting up, making up, breaking up, the proper currency of pop music.

Flaws? Perhaps a little lack of self-belief. Never mind, as someone once nearly said, ‘there are flaws in everything…that’s how the light gets in’. And TeenCanteen are bathed in it.

5 responses to “TeenCanteen”

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  3. Richard says:

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