Whether Tender Age’s debut LP Becoming Real Forever is categorized as “shoegaze” or “noise-pop” or “rock music that’s been soaked with rainwater and then struck by lightning” doesn’t really matter. These songs sound like they were born from a place where the air feels humid and electric—someplace that’s both reclusive and weathered by the elements.
The Portland band includes Tauna Leonardo (guitar/vocals), Christopher Klarer (guitar), Elaina Tardif (guitar/vocals), Bryan Robertson (bass), and Olives (drums). Where Tender Age’s 2016 EP Disappear Here sounds as though it were pulled from the same romantic, distorted daydream as Suicide’s “Cheree,” Becoming Real Forever moves into less hospitable territory. Listening feels more like being pulled out of your bedroom, thrown into a raging storm, and locked out of the house, which is captured with guitars that thrash and hiss like bitter wind while drums pound mechanically in the background.
Most of the lyrics seem to reckon with feeling confused and disconnected from reality—unable to discern what’s real and what’s not, like struggling to identify shapes in the fog. This effort periodically lapses into apathy, as on standout track “Deluxe,” made great by a frenetic dual guitar and bass riff that’s probably the catchiest moment on the whole album.
The title Becoming Real Forever suggests that existing comfortably in reality is Tender Age’s aspiration, but the heavy (and sometimes overemployed) fuzz makes sure the record is firmly situated in stormy surreality—thankfully for Tender Age, that’s a sonically pleasing place to be.