Album: The Teenagers, Reality Check (XL)

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The Independent Culture

If the pubertal punks in Larry Clark's Kids had lived in Paris, they might well have grown up to be The Teenagers, as amoral and ironically shocking an act as France has produced since Serge Gainsbourg.

The trio's "Homecoming" could be a "Je t'aime" for our times, sharply contrasting a European lothario's contemptuous opinion of an American conquest with her naively romantic notion of their dalliance. The utter lack of empathy or care extends throughout Reality Check, from the junior thugs in "Streets of Paris" to the ruthless abuse of a fragile young outcast in "Fuck Nicole" ("The world's not fair/ You just can't deal with your despair"), while "Love No" offers a "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" for the MySpace generation, the protagonist anguished by how much time his partner spends on social networking sites.

The least obviously cynical pieces are "Feeling Better", about the uplifting effect of dancing, and "Make It Happen", a pop-ambition anthem, but the musical manner remains exuberant, primal garage-punk thrashes basted with electro-pop synths: retro-futurism with a tarnished soul.

Download this: 'Homecoming', 'Love No', 'Wheel of Fortune', 'Feeling Better'