Album Review: Teen Suicide—“It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s All Stir the Honeypot”

By Grace Guimond

Teen Suicide’s most recent—and reportedly last—release, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s All Stir the Honeypot, arguably shouldn’t exist at all. Sam Ray and Eric Livingston started Teen Suicide in 2009, kind of as a joke band, and released a comp album, 3 EP’s, and their cult favourite full-length i will be my own hell because there is a devil inside my body before breaking up in 2013. Nearly a year later, they re-united with a new lineup to play a couple shows, and in 2014, signed to Run For Cover Records. Technically, It’s The Big Joyous Celebration isn’t going to be Teen Suicide’s last release (although their label says differently). It’s just their last release under the moniker Teen Suicide – a name that Sam Ray, who also fronts electronic project Ricky Eat Acid, admittedly regrets.

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Album art for It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s All Stir the Honeypot

The Big Joyous Celebration certainly sounds like a swan song. At 26 songs and 69 minutes, it’s their most ambitious release to date. It’s also their most accurately named: definitely joyous, definitely a celebration, definitely stirring things up: a mixed bag of classic bedroom emo Teen Suicide, experimental electronic pop, pop punk basslines, and loungey dance. At first listen, it almost sounds like a compilation album, or a b-sides and rarities album. Still most definitely lo-fi but definitely less sad, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration is unpredictable in the best sense of the word. Starting off with a fake out folk opening, and gradually progressing to the kind of song where if someone caught me playing a snippet at a party asked what Beach House song it was, I wouldn’t hold it against them for too long. The sunny, surfy, dreamy rock takes a turn in the second track: a minimalistic orchestral bedroom pop track with lyrics like “let’s all stir the honeypot / depression is a construct / heaven is a package deal / don’t need proof to know it’s real”, the sudden shift in atmosphere foreshadows the brilliantly vulnerable curated chaos to come.

The remaining 24 songs are spent toeing the line between sad and happy, dancey-pop and gloomy pop, at some times sounding more mixtape than album, but always retaining their og lo-fi bedroom vibe. Stand outs include “Stomach of the Earth”, which is pretty much unlike anything we’ve ever heard from the band– 90s lounge groove meets vaporwave meets probably the most danceable Teen Suicide song ever. Contributors like Spencer Radcliffe and Owen Pallett make their mark on the record; the distortion-heavy “Beauty” wouldn’t be out of place on a Radcliffe album and the orchestral jubilance peppered throughout the album is reminiscent of Pallett’s earlier work. An intricately organized mess coated with a fuzzy, warm, genuine vibe that reminds you the album really is, at the end of it all, just a couple friends jamming out together, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration sounds like what would happen if a group of angels stuck in heaven detention for smoking under the bleachers got a hold of a synth, a distortion pedal, a box every Orchid Tapes release, and a Soundcloud producer hookup. (Run for Cover)

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