As the offspring of noted composer Peter Lieberson, a career in music was always going to be likely for the Nova Scotia-born, Brooklyn-based sister trio fronted by former Here We Go Magic keyboardist Kristina ‘Teeny’ Lieberson. Rather than follow their father down the classical route, TEEN have become known for their constantly evolving experimental pop style. Containing some material taken from Teeny’s 2011 solo work Little Doods, there was nothing particularly special about their Sonic Boom (Spaceman 3) produced 2012 debut In Limbo.
Their next two releases would see a vast improvement though. First there was 2013’s Carolina which took the best bits of their debut and fine tuned them into a fantastic five-track EP with the help of DIIV collaborator Daniel Schlett. Then came arguably their best work to date with 2014’s ambitious second full-length The Way and Color which saw them blend R&B with psychedelic pop in ways that made others sit up and pay attention. Continuing to work with Schlett, 2016’s synth pop experiment Love Yes saw them adding more radio sheen to their sound but with mixed results.
Having collaborated with three different bassists since their 2010 inception, TEEN are back to being a trio again after Boshra AlSaadi’s amicable departure during the making of their latest and fourth full-length release Good Fruit. Their first self-produced album, it also sees Teeny sharing some of the songwriting duties with her multi-instrumentalist sister Lizzie. A conceptual follow-up to Love Yes of sorts, rather than being a conventional break-up album Good Fruit is about the complexities and contradictions that come with having loved and ultimately lost.
It’s not just an album about romantic love though, with single ‘Only Water’ exploring the grief they felt after the 2011 death of their father and their continued connection to him over an uplifting dance track. A pulsing pop approach is also taken on another one of the albums singles, with ‘Runner’ also featuring a St. Vincent-esque guitar over lyrics about exiting a smothering relationship. Good Fruit also balances its more uplifting moments with some slower paced numbers like airy R&B ballad closer ‘Pretend’, and the sensual seven-minute ambient electronica centrepiece ‘Connection’.
Although the album settles into something very solid, the hardest tracks to warm to are easily the opening two. ‘Popular Taste’ kicks the album off with a mix of scrappy vocal samples and strange pop, while ‘Ripe’ with its trudging watery claps and retro synths sounds like it may have come from Matmos’ Supreme Balloon sessions. Aside from this imperfect start there’s plenty here to enjoy, such as the gorgeous celestial pop of ‘Radar’ and the strutting groove of ‘Putney’ which helps get the Lieberson sisters back on track with Good Fruit after the mixed effort the produced with Love Yes last time around.
Good Fruit is available now via Carpark Records