Teen Suicide might just have the distinction of having the longest album title ever. Their latest- I Will Be My Own Hell Because There is A Devil Inside My Body is full of songs that dance on the razor thin line between lo-fi garage rock and a sonic wash of indie emo pop. Yes I used that 3 letter word that can send punk aficionados running for the exit door. No not pop, emo. Don't worry, all the emotional bluster is darkly twisted with over distorted guitars and keys and vocals by Sam Ray that are sung in such a way as to sound more like crys for help, pissed off rants or hushed muttering, like Sam is talking to himself as in Cop Graveyard where discordant sounds (could be the start of a Radiohead song) give way to a really catch pop progression as Sam quietly, barely sings. What is so cool (and disarming) is the pretty melody that plays all syrupy and lusciously distorted. The first track, Anne eases with swelling key and an audio clip of a man talking about some dark things (contamination and death). Give Me Back To The Sky is a shoe gazy number that feels uplifting and mournful at the same time. It has this sweeping feel, "Can we see beautiful pictures of your life projected on the side of a house, when fall comes they'll fine me, covering my eyes in a pose, reminiscent of a child scared of the dark". It is not often that you get such poetic lyrics wrapped inside this kind of lo-fi garage rock.
Dan Collins Vs. The Maryland Judicial System is one of favorite songs on this album. The guitar hook and washed out sound is that kind of song that you would want slamming you in the face at a house show and then it gets all pretty on you. A simple evocative key melody and drums carry the last third of the song until it runs into another audio clip that sound like it might be a phone message. Dead Bird Skeleton with it's disjointed guitar breaks feels like progressive punk and then easily shifts into dreamland once more, a surprising tonal shift. Grim Reaper plays like a letter to one's parents. It is stripped down and bare and feels more like a song idea than a realized song, like something played into a cassette player and I like that. The Same Things Happening to Me All The Time, Even In My Dreams is (I guess appropriately) the most dreamy sounding track. There is an uneven disjointed quality that just didn't hook me at first but after a few listens, it's emotional tentacles pulled me in. The guitar work is like a mild narcotic.
There are some more straight dream punk on display in that No Age kind of vein in Have You Been Eating That Sandwich and The Way We Were With People (love the dynamics at the end). The last track Swallow with it's choppy beginning, lone guitar and lust steeped vocal feels like some intimate stuff that we shouldn't be hearing. In the end, I Will Be My Own Hell Because There is A Devil Inside My Body by Teen Suicide feels blissfully raw and surprisingly elegant in terms of the sweet melodies and introspective lyrics. I really like this album a lot and I know it is going to grow on me even more. The lo-fi quality actually enhances what is going on here. The fact that these lo-fi punkish songs venture into there own type of indie pop distortion is beguiling.