Rhythm & Views

The Teenagers

Bret Easton Ellis' novel Less Than Zero, published in the '80s when the author was 21 years old, was ahead of its time--and now comes the Teenagers, a French electro-pop trio that plumbs the teen nihilism Ellis captured.

Indeed, the Teenagers' debut is a drum-machined world of unsafe sex, designer drugs and disco-plagued nightclubs. To their credit, singer Quentin Delafon, guitarist Dorian Dumont and bassist Michael Szpiner approach the genre--if you can call it such--seriously. Or serious enough to re-imagine the Reagan era from a Eurotrash vantage.

Reality Check opens with "Homecoming," a synth-humping duet involving two voices, a visiting Brit (with a French accent, no less!) and an American cheerleader, who get it on and leave with different impressions. For him, it's about scoring; for her, it's about romance. "Don't forget to send me a friend request," she says later, an ironic end to a superficial story about superficial adolescents.

"Streets of Paris" offers a partying-until-dawn vignette with a seductive melody to lure an unsuspecting princess' car into a deadly tunnel. And the ominous bass-guitar riff and snuff lyrics of "Sunset Beach" are scarier than a Larry Clark film fest: "The bitch deserved to die / She left with the sunlight." For the Teenagers, exploring the sonic terrain of young psychopathology adds up to a number greater than zero.