Origins is a recurring new music feature in which we give musicians the chance to explain the influences behind their latest single.
Three years ago, the sisters in TEEN released Love Yes, an album that dealt with all the complexities of embracing romance. On March 1st, they’ll follow up that effort with a record focused on the other side of that experience, Good Fruit. Where much of their previous LP focused on the self-acceptance needed to receive love, this new one wrestles with the self-awareness required to notice when it’s gone.
Previous singles “Only Water” and “Runner” masked the hardships of the lyrics in frenetic synth compositions — but you can only hide sorrow underneath danceable melodies for so long. On TEEN’s new track “Pretend”, the Lieberson sisters reflect the dejection of realizing you can no longer fake love in the slow, somber notes of piano, even as their harmonies remain as bright as ever. “Why can’t you love me like you said you would?/ Why do I always feel misunderstood?” goes the first verse. “Somehow you find a way to disappoint me/ I think it’s time to let go finally.”
Take a listen to “Pretend” below via its video, which sees the sisterly trio riding through a tree-lined country road in the back of an open-air truck.
For more on the sort of romantic failure that she put into “Pretend”, TEEN’s Lizzie Lieberson explained the track’s Origins.
Fall in New York:
I wrote this song in the fall. It’s my favorite time of year in New York. I love the turn in season when there’s just a slight chill in the air and all you want to do is eat and drink. We worked on “Pretend” at The Outlier Inn in upstate New York, where basically all we did was eat roasted chicken, drink wine, and record. There is a spot on the property with a table and chairs in front of this little pond where I would sit and write lyrics and come up with melodies. I sat there almost everyday and wrote.
This is in front of the little house we stayed in while recording. Dogs make everything better.
The Moment You Know:
This song is really about a moment. A moment I had with someone who I used to love. It’s a pretty classic feeling really; realizing that the person you always hoped would miraculously change for you, would in fact never do so. It’s a fleeting moment but an incredibly impactful one, leaving you full of regret and immense disappointment. Yet, there is power in that release, knowing you can decide to be free of someone who has had a hold on you for so long. With that weight lifted, you are able to open yourself to someone else who is far more deserving.
The North Ship by Philip Larkin:
Philip Larkin is one of my favorite poets. Sometimes I read my favorites for inspiration. This poem in particular spoke to me:
From The North Ship
Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitous and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it: for now at last
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,
Never were hearts more eager to be free,
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see
The grain going forward to a different use.
There is regret. Always, there is regret.
But it is better that our lives unloose,
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light,
Break from estuary with their courses set,
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.
These are some of my favorite love songs of all time. I return to them often. I’m sure my obsession with sad love songs has influenced my writing over the years.
“I Hope She’ll Be Happier” – Bill Withers:
“What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” – Jimmy Ruffin:
“Love to See You” – The Roaches:
“I Miss You” – Randy Newman:
“Baby Where You Are” – Ted Lucas:
“And So It Goes” – Billy Joel:
“I Will Be Your Slave” – David Bowie:
“Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Would Understand)” – Irma Thomas: