I can’t deny it. On paper, Teenagersintokyo’s debut full-length release sounds somewhat ridiculous. And it often is, but wonderfully so. Firstly, a lot of Sacrifice sounds like the Cure, had they been born on the dancefloor rather than on a giant spider’s web. It’s half Hammer House of Horror, half Hammer-Time House of Horror. Throughout, I have this unshakeable image of Christopher Lee—resplendent in crimson-lined cloak and mirrored wayfarers—poppin’ his collar in the DJ Booth, honeys draped beside him. Yes, for the full experience, Sacrifice should come with a smoke machine, black nail varnish, and a mirrorball.
From the title track opener, dry ice pours from its, err, pores, and we’re transported back to the Rum Runner, 1981. It’s all “Blue Steel” glares, razors for cheekbones, blinding neon, snowflake synths, and too-cool-for-school attitude. Obviously, then, it’s a blast. “This is the point of no return,” hollers ringleader Samantha Lim, “Sacrifice! Sacrifice!” It’s hard not to raise a skinny fist aloft, even if you don’t really know what’s going on.
Most of Sacrifice is focussed on raisin’ hell, but lookin’ superfly whilst doing it. The funky single “Peter Pan” gatecrashes its way into Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and features a synth solo that cuts through the smoke like Bruce Campbell’s chainsaw arm. Cue mysterious observation: “Above beyond the skies is something of a mystery / I get the feeling that there’s someone watching over me.” “New Day”, meanwhile, starts Ladyhawke-esque before deciding it’s really “Planet Earth”-era Duran Duran: “It’s a new day / Can you feel how my heart is beating?” It offers a galloping bassline and hissing hi-hats, and it packs in a preposterously ace talky bit too.
“End It Tonight” is a monster jam waiting to be unleashed. Sharp and sassy, it’s Wire’s “I Am the Fly” given a Blondie scented smackdown: “You will try to find an answer / I will go and walk the other way.” Bad ass. Elsewhere, the beatbox electro of “As We Are” smoulders with the enviable glamour and snaked-hipped posturing of youth:“We’re the night owls, all alive / Let the moonlight draw you in.” It possibly even features the actual hand claps from “Bette Davis Eyes”. There’s also a song called “Robocat” (of course) with the line “you never saw my face and then you purred at me.” What’s not to love? It’s the Dark Disco “Rock Lobster”, an absolute riot that ends with the declaration “we are war”. Soldiers, ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
So Sacrifice likes to par-tay. However—and this is the Science part—there’s more. There is a trilogy of thrillers which elevate them above hipster revivalism. “Isabella” may begin like the Cure’s “A Forest” in a disco blender, but wait! Its twitching drums soon snowball into something as dazzling as Ian Curtis dancing into his own brain during “Transmission”. It’s smart and clever: “The friends I need you tonight / The end I’m seeing it now.”
But when Teenagersintokyo pause for breath, they deliver their haymakers. Tying the heartbeat patter of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” to simultaneously “Inbetween Days” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love”, “Long Walk Home” is every shade of amazing. It bottles the melancholic ache and head-spinning confusion of being lost in the maze we call “love” as perfectly as the Shangri-Las’ “Walking in the Sand” or Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams”. The moody magnificence of miserablism: “It’s a long walk home and I want to walk it with you!” BOOM! Sorry, my heart just exploded.
Like proper discos, Sacrifice closes with a slow-dancin’ blub-fest. “3046” is a lonesome music box ballerina pirouetting into eternity: “We burn the night away / You were hard to find / I’m drawn into this dream again.” Seven minutes of burnin’ down the disco in slo-mo inspired by the lush neon romanticism of Wong Kar-Wai. So sad, so beautiful, it sent shivers down my spine. “It will last with you,” pines Lim. Damn right.
However sometimes Sacrifice is just, well, ridiculous. There are jump the shark moments. “Talk to the Fire”, for example, could be Flight of the Conchords, and it’s tempting to flick on the house lights and call the cops. “Bars and books its a part of the part / Talk to the fire.” Eh?
But Sacrifice is a joyride which flies by so swiftly you’ll be saddened when the doors open and our Lady Cab Driver concludes, “You have reached your destination.” Teenagersintokyo offer more than just a midnight monster mash, they say a few prayers for the morning after too. There are ghosts here with enough spirit to haunt you long after this party’s over. So readers, be unafraid to type “Teenagersintokyo” into search engines, discover the night and rage, rage against the dying of the light.
// Notes from the Road
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