Teens of July is a beautifully packaged EP with a red and white picture of a kind of angel/butterfly on the paper pullout cover. The music has that kind of charm; natural spark and splendor with a touch of fantasy pulling it through the flowery skies of its chamber of lo-fi space. Cult & Leper draw from all kinds of bright and shiny sources.
The band has bizarre symmetry and balance to it, with nodes that threaten to break it apart, except for the spring of Jeff Balter’s zingy drums, bouncing them into new, propulsive places.
Patrick Kuehn sings like a spaced-out teen idol from ’60s pop, and he also plays a driving, hypnotic bass. The group has great dynamics, bubbling like a spring, then bursting into anthemic grandeur.
“Brand, Chances” has a salsa/calypso feel, with Cale Israel’s keyboards ringing like steel drums. Sam Lisabeth’s guitar has the keen desperation of a man making a prisoner’s cut, and he sparkles on “Bunkbed Uncle” like kids shooting fireworks on the beach on the Fourth of July. This song bleeds with angst, with a melody that has the feel of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”. “Whoa God” has a Bruce Springsteen summer circus feel, alternating it with incandescent prog guitar. It keeps gathering together its loose ends, splicing them into tighter wholes.
The heavy twang of the bass strings gives “My Favorite Thing About Her”, the final number, a Western feel crossed with a mellow ’70s style love song. It burns, as it fades, like the tones of a Farfisa organ, drawing a last breath of summer into drum and guitar sparring, sputtering into the waves with the grace of a teenage diver off a high dive into the September sea.