Originally released back in July in the UK, Welcome To Good Island is the debut release from the newest in a line of semi-sloppy pop punk bands from the UK that curl their lip with a bit of the Art School tradition. When listening to their snarky spoken word passages tossed off nonchalantly, the first group that comes to mind is The Fall, but the XX Teens churn out music that veers between shambolic rock to electronic pop, pushing into slightly different territory than the aforementioned group.
I've never tried to hide my disbelief in wondering just how Mark E. Smith got so popular, and yet somehow the XX Teens get their hooks under my skin in several places. "The Way We Were" kicks things off with some swirls of electronic harp, but soon rambles into a cowbell-laced swamp stomp that's about as straightforward as they come (including loud shout-out choruses), while "B-54" is another jangling riff-rocker with multiple shout-out vocal sections.
The group is at their best when they shoot off into slightly different sounds, though. "Round" mixes massive slabs of synth and pounding drums with bass guitar that sounds absolutely buried in grit while vocals wind and weave through the eerie funhouse of a song. "Sun Comes Up" is even better, swirling in psych-rock swaths of filtered sitar as the bass goes absolutely mad and screamed verses give way to almost anthem-like choruses. The group manages to somehow meld their wild-style sounds with something huge and heady at the same time. The same goes for "Darlin'" which blasts some ska-like horns and metal drums in alongside another frantic pop punk track that's insanely catchy. It's not always hitting the mark, but over the course of eleven tracks and just under forty minutes, XX Teens certainly show they have some chops to keep an eye on.