Upon first glance, listeners may not notice that Brooklyn-based quartet TEEN is essentially a family affair. The group consists of three sisters — Teeny, Katherine and Lizzie Lieberson — and a fourth member, Boshra AlSaadi. Perhaps it is this sisterly bond that makes TEEN so different from other all-girl music groups of today, having the ability to mix several genres into a sound that is uniquely their own.
For their second full-length record, “The Way and Color,” TEEN brings in more psychedelic and R&B influences, adding to the unrivaled noise/pop/electronic combination achieved on the previous LP, “In Limbo,” and last year’s “Carolina” EP.
“The Way and Color” opens with the bright “Rose 4 U,” which features a buoyant bass line and sweet, repetitive lyrics throughout the track. However, at the song’s mid-point, the TEEN girls gather in an unexpected yet beautiful vocal harmony that completely changes tempo but still somehow fits. The opener paves the way for the rest of “The Way and Color,” promising even smoother vocal performances and unpredictable twists and turns.
“Rose 4 U” is followed by “Not For Long.” This track effortlessly continues the motif of harmonious R&B influence and, by the song’s end, a loop of synthesizers pulls the sound together — something that only TEEN could craft.
On “Sticky,” the record’s fourth track, a slow dub reverbs in the background while Teeny and company croon about a “sticky situation,” perhaps alluding to a failing relationship or something more gruesome. Despite the song’s gloomy subject, its rhythmic beat and flow give it a sensual feel.
This quality carries on in “More Than I Ask For” and the nearly seven-minute-long “Breathe Low & Deep,” where the quartet employs layers of brass instruments to add another musical dimension without sounding overwhelming.
The album’s sole instrumental track is titled “Voices.” Electronic pings and pangs take control of the track, alongside synthesizers and a deep, distorted vocal sample.
Further on, the fuzzy guitar riff in “Reconsider” morphs into the song’s foreground, demanding the listener’s attention as it simultaneously contradicts and works with the recurring synths.
“All the Same” successfully closes the album by bringing together the disparate elements of the album that make it so great — the harmonies, the bass, the computerized accents and the brass.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single boring moment on “The Way and Color.” The record functions best as a focal piece of music, as opposed to something that would play at a dinner party.
The album’s eccentric, ambitious quality places it above the group’s debut, which included a couple standout tracks in between layers of filler. Since then, TEEN has created a special sort of music that should garner attention for years to come.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 22 print edition. Kim Hart is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]