There must be as many garage-rock songs about boredom as there are American suburbs. But that universal quality can be a plus, especially if the blasé band finds other ways to distinguish itself. Enter Tweens, a Cincinnati-based trio whose scrappy, bubblegum-coated take on punk has landed them well-deserved opening slots for the Breeders and the Black Lips.
Frontwoman Bridget Battle graduated to Tweens from high school choir, but her delivery tends more toward Poly Styrene or Ronnie Spector than Glee. Drummer Jerri Queen and bassist Peyton Copes honed their scuzz-pop chops in the similarly minded bubblegum punk outfit Vacation. Tweens’ self-titled debut album pairs Battle’s yelpy directness with Ramones-huffing rowdiness, and the results are as sure to improve a humdrum Friday night as an older friend with a valid drinking-age ID.
Early single “Be Mean” takes tart aim at an otherwise “really great guy,” “Girlfriend” convincingly answers the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the negative, and “Hardcore Boy” peppily updates the Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl.” There’s a risk of sameness, and some detours — aptly titled sludge instrumental “Stoner” — don’t quite work. But when Tweens slow down and let Battle shine, whether on midtempo yearner “Don’t Wait Up” or, especially, the dreamy, stripped-down ballad “Want U,” it’s clear the band whose album starts with a spiky salvo titled “Bored in This City” isn’t stuck anywhere.