Boston's Future Teens exist in that moment of late-20s/early-30s post-adolescence where the pains of youth are replaced by the anxieties of growing up and getting old. This is reflected in the oh-so-short 'Deliberately Alive', a bittersweet stopgap follow-up to break-out 'Breakup Season'.
Like its predecessor, the biggest mystery around 'Deliberately Alive' is how Future Teens make the mundanity of modern adulthood sound so life-affirming. Sure, their preppy, perky indie-rock helps sell the songs, but when every lyric reads like the start of an existential crisis, it's no mean feat to ensure these songs are engaging and uplifting rather than maudlin.
Only five songs long, 'Deliberately Alive' sticks rigidly to the formula that previously brought the 'Teens so much success. Amy Hoffman and Daniel Radin continue to share lead vocal duties to great effect, mixing personal stories of heartbreak and loneliness with aplomb.
And the quality doesn't drop. Whether that's Hoffman lamenting the lack of a guest room ('Guest Room') or Radin's take on failing relationships ('Play Cool'), 'Deliberately Alive' works as Future Teens' most cohesive set of songs to date.
And while there's a serious side to Future Teens' lyrics, they're also not afraid to embrace classic pop-music. Having brilliantly tackled Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe' and Smash Mouth's 'All Star' previously, this time they've reinterpreted Cher's 'Believe', turning the disco blockbuster into an aching pull on the heartstrings.
While the pandemic might have put a stop to the group's heavy touring schedule (and the likelihood of a UK debut to boot), 'Deliberately Alive' is a more than welcome return from a band on the up.