Adulthood is a just dream, a mirage that dissipates too easily up close. It’s a tempting thought, one that alights on naïve brains and taunts them with promises of freedom and comfort, authority and wisdom. Too many learn too late—that adulthood is merely childhood complicated, that adults know no better than children, that the world will always be the playground, the lunchroom, the hallways we hope to escape when we get older.
Brooklyn, NY’s Teen Body understands this truth and, on the eight-song follow-up to their 2016 debut Get Home Safe, confronts it. Indeed, Dreamo echoes with disappointment and dread—adult emotions—but also glistens and chimes, its melody reminding listeners what’s real and true. On “Fell Off,” for example, guitarist Shannon Lee’s icy chords streak across her measured voice, which winds and swirls and folds on itself like a velvet rhythm. It may be easy to lose her lyrics during the chorus—“I fell off the ride / the ten-thousandth time / I know the mistake / feeling I can’t shake”—behind the flickering confetti colors, the fanfaring synth and fidgety bass, and maybe that’s the point. The same happens on “Act Yr Age,” which flickers like a slow-spinning disco ball, and the bubbly “Validation”—Teen Body juxtapose resentment with a sort of breathless energy that bounces or twirls like a child trying to ignore a lecturing adult.
Later, on the LP’s title track, Lee and bassist French draw back the curtain and sing what could be the album’s thesis statement: "Hey man, what an awful reason to feel bad / You don't need a declaration to be sad / I could have told you that, I could have told you that much / I could have told you life would just dissolve around you.” Here, as their guitars toll in a kind of climax and the drums tumble steady and straight, Lee and French acknowledge these familiar adult moods, but let their listeners in on their secret: that the dream of adulthood is just a mirage, that these feelings are as old as you are, that this is nothing you haven’t handled before, and how haven’t you figured this out yet?
If there is an adulthood, it occurs the moment the bubble bursts—when we realize that we are who we are, for better or worse, until the day we die. And, though Dreamo seems to bottle this grave sentiment, it keeps it behind glass, shimmering and strong and cool to the touch. Because Teen Body have experienced the shortcomings of adulthood, and they know that what keeps these at bay is far more real—and more beautiful—than the mirage itself.
— Dane Erbach